×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

BART Defends Mobile Service Shutdown

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the ay-carumba dept.

Communications 149

itwbennett writes "In a filing to the FCC, Bay Area Rapid Transit general manager Grace Crunican defended last August's mobile shutdown, saying that 'a temporary disruption of cell phone service, under extreme circumstances where harm and destruction are imminent, is a necessary tool to protect passengers.' Taking the opposing position, digital rights groups, including Public Knowledge, Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the FCC (PDF) that 'wireless interruption will necessarily prohibit the communications of completely innocent parties — precisely those parties closest to the site where the emergency is located or anticipated.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

149 comments

Next they'll turn off the power (5, Funny)

SirBitBucket (1292924) | about 2 years ago | (#39864591)

In the interest of the greater good...

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (-1, Redundant)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#39864699)

Next they'll turn off the power ... In the interest of the greater good...

Why is this moderated funny? If you assume that "imminent harm" (decided upon without a judge, I am pretty sure) is a good enough reason to kill cell phones.... then anything goes
Sleeping gas to keep people out of critical areas, puncturing tires or jamming doors to keep people from panicked driving. Driving a car is a privilege too.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39864807)

Why is this moderated funny?

Apparently someone already turned off the power to your sarcasm meter.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865145)

Fixed it for ya!

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865271)

because it is funny

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865279)

If you assume that "imminent harm" (decided upon without a judge, I am pretty sure) is a good enough reason to kill cell phones.

We're not talking about killing cell phones, we're talking about turning off a signal relay.

Driving a car is a privilege too.

And what you're claiming is that if the government can shut down a road (without judicial review) for safety reasons, then that means they can just take your car away from you entirely. Which is just about as fucking retarded as you can get.

But here's what most of you are missing entirely. The 911 center has a limited capability to handle calls. They have a limited number of incoming trunks and a limited number of operators to handle those calls. When 1,000 people in the subway all call 911 because some rent-a-cop got frisky with his pepper spray, the 911 center is effectively DDOS'd and can't respond to anything else in town. Which is why each cell tower has a limit on how many calls can connect to 911 at one time... usually the limit is around 5 calls (or less). And of course the tower has a limit on how many calls of any type can be taken at one time.
So what I'm getting at here, is that in an emergency there's only going to be about a half dozen people who get through to 911, a couple dozen more who get busy signals, and everybody else is just plain fucked because the tower just overloaded. And for the next hour or more, the 911 center will have to take calls from people who are redialing over and over and over.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865467)

If the limit is already in place, the need to shutdown the towers all together is?

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 years ago | (#39866665)

I just got this mental image of Princess Grace franctically finger stabbing her phone as the BART train heads towards a section of track that used to be there, but no longer is. Oh ya, that was at the last major earthquake in the city.

Happy trails princess.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (2)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#39864753)

You know, I'm no fun of poor public decision-making but honestly turning off the data in underground public transportation seriously does not seem like that big of a deal to me.

Honestly, transit (air and subway) is one of the few places you could get some peace and quiet. While it's nice to have, it's not a necessity and whining about it being turned off to avert what they believed was going to be a bad event really probably wasn't all that terrible of an idea.

That said, your note that you believe the slippery slope is coming to reach to turning off the power is a bit much. Yeah you could have been exaggerating for fun but honestly, that's just silly.

Disruption of service sucks. If the public sector really thought this would mitigate that disruption, let them do it. Turning off the power, well, that would disrupt the service even more.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (3, Insightful)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#39864803)

You know, I'm no fun of poor public decision-making but honestly turning off the data in underground public transportation seriously does not seem like that big of a deal to me.

Its increadibly inconviniant, and the airlines are starting to show how unnessessary it is. My own feeling is that they did that in an attempt to conceal the fact that BART was broken again. Had nothing to do with safety.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865037)

This is what I think anyone can object to. If anyone actually believed this was about, "extreme circumstances where harm and destruction are imminent", then it'd be understandable.

But that's like... terrorist with a remote trigger wired to a mobile phone. Not, "Aw god dammit, a bunch of stupid college kids are gunna protest something again." Then you're just getting nasty about suppressing something you don't like, and you're inconveniencing a gajillion other people in the process.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (1, Flamebait)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#39866205)

"Its increadibly inconviniant,"

Oh get over it. If you can't go a few hours without phone or net access you need to see a shrink.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (0)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#39864823)

turning off the data in underground public transportation seriously does not seem like that big of a deal to me.

What about a total jamming of all wireless communication in the area? (which may or may not include medical devices). Where do you draw the line?

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (2, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39864863)

OMG! Think of the Medical Devices!

Give me a break. There are NO, repeat NO medical devices that require constant wireless communication with anything. Otherwise, people would simply keel over in the various Faraday cages that we surround ourselves with throughout the day.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (0)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#39864875)

OMG! Think of the Medical Devices!

Ok, that's a little far-fetched.
How about temporarily booting all parked cars in the vicinity? For everyone's safety, of course.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39865057)

OMG! Think of the Medical Devices!

Give me a break. There are NO, repeat NO medical devices that require constant wireless communication with anything. Otherwise, people would simply keel over in the various Faraday cages that we surround ourselves with throughout the day.

How many faraday cages do you surround yourself with during the day? I can leave my apartment, take the elevator down to the parking garage, hop in my car, drive to work, take the elevator up to the 3rd floor and walk to my office, all without dropping my phone call. (ok, so I've never don't it all in one contiguous call, but I've used my phone on each of those segments individually)

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 2 years ago | (#39866479)

I think this is separate from the core argument, I don't think anyone would make such a device. However, but a building with metal siding and few windows might be sufficient. Except for the fact that I installed a repeater, some parts of my shop would completely drop detectable signal, other parts too weak to let useful signal through. Some stores are like that too, I can get in the middle of the building and get no signal. This counts a Target, Walmart and a local grocery store. Anyone working in a warehouse might be in trouble.

I don't think any medical device will require a constant signal to keep the patient alive, there's too much risk in that, I don't know exactly what circumstances would require that. I can see maybe a medical device for a seriously ill person that relays location and vital data to dispatch an ambulance, one might be in trouble if you lose signal and you have a life threatening episode.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865513)

Flat out wrong...
If you honestly believe this then you need to spend a day following an ED doctor. They use apps on their mobile phone to check medication dosage, look up symptoms of difficult cases, do conversions form one unit system to another, keep in contact with other doctors that need information about a patent.
Sure, I'm sure if you think that somehow every doctor/nurse or other medical professional can actually memorize the entirety of the medical research we've collected, then we don't have a need for this information. I personally wouldn't want my life on the line while my doctor waited for a call back from another doctor because of a tower taken down for a protest. Or for that mater someone guessing as to the dosage I should receive of a medication. After all no one has ever died of accidental overdose before. Heck even with all this technology, I once had a doctor prescribe me a dosage 10x larger than someone just starting that medication should have taken.

Also just because it's not out now doesn't mean that it won't be out in the future. I'm sure that there are medical monitoring devices that are already in the works to report your current condition to your doctor. Such devices could allow you to live a more normal life while having a delicate condition. Or have your doctor adjust an automatic dosage system without you ever having to go to their office. There are merits to such systems, while i agree they won't require a constant connection at first, as our ability to cover more and more distance with wireless communications reliably continues to improve there may be a time that such devices start to appear.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (0)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#39864861)

So you see no problems with the government doing so to deliberately silence political speech? There have been revolutions for less.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864893)

Temporarily turning off resources to contain mob behavior is not silencing political speech.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (5, Insightful)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | about 2 years ago | (#39865445)

Temporarily turning off resources to contain mob behavior is not silencing political speech.

Unless the mob behaviour is protesting against the latest thing the government did but shouldn't have / didn't do but should have.

Or is it really to prevent Western Spring?

(Sorry, forgot to put my foil helmet on this morning)

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864929)

Is the expression of "political speech" materially inhibited by a temporary disruption of cellular service in a subway station?
Or is it merely "communication to organize immediate property damage and other disruption, to make a political point?
Who decides? If it's a first amendment case, has the Supreme Court issued rulings on freedom of speech matters which would apply here?

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (0)

Belial6 (794905) | about 2 years ago | (#39865109)

Wait, What?!?!?!

transit (air and subway) is one of the few places you could get some peace and quiet.

What kind of screwed up neighborhood do you live in that you go to public places jammed with people to find a quite place? It's like your not even speaking English.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865377)

you go to public places jammed with people to find a quite place? It's like your not even speaking English.

You appear to know all about that.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865691)

Dear pedant,

You missed "your".

Sincerely,
Another pedant.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#39866005)

That said, your note that you believe the slippery slope is coming to reach to turning off the power is a bit much. Yeah you could have been exaggerating for fun but honestly, that's just silly.

So, which is more useful - blocking communications between members of a dangerous mob or blocking communications of potential victims of that dangerous mob to do things like call 911?

Of course that question assumes that you buy the claims that the mob is dangerous to anything more than the jobs of the people turning off the communications.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (4, Informative)

Gription (1006467) | about 2 years ago | (#39866295)

. . .

Honestly, transit (air and subway) is one of the few places you could get some peace and quiet.

. . .

You've never been on BART have you?
BART is the loudest subway I've ever seen and goes over 100 decibels repeatedly.
After riding on quality systems in other places such as Munich I find that BART is just a technical embarrassment.

As far as turning off the cell data coverage... BART consistently has the worst station announcements and the worst station signage. Without the data coverage the only way I can figure out which station I'm at half the time is to get the station map up on the cell and count stops from an identifiable station. I'm really at a loss how a system that big isn't internally audited for simple things like clarity and volume of station announcements. And the lack of clear, obvious, unmistakable station signage is just stupid negligence or apathy on the management's part. 5 minutes on the S-Bahn in Munich will show you how worse then just "Bad" BART is.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (2)

Smallpond (221300) | about 2 years ago | (#39866311)

You know, I'm no fun of poor public decision-making but honestly turning off the data in underground public transportation seriously does not seem like that big of a deal to me.

If they had temporarily banned TV news crews from covering the protests "in the interest of public safety" would that be not such a big deal? After all, they are very intrusive, block emergency access, etc.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 2 years ago | (#39866643)

You know, I'm no fun of poor public decision-making but honestly turning off the data in underground public transportation seriously does not seem like that big of a deal to me.

I'm sorry, I just don't see what possible "event" could warrant making the populace unable to communicate with each other, unless said "event" was created by the people who are turning off communications.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39866693)

You are only listening to the BART side of the story.

First, it's not just data that was shut down, but voice as well.

Second. Imagine if a fire broke out, or you had a heart attack, or somebody was being attacked; How would you report it without your phone working?

Third. The only reason BART shut it down was because they wanted to prevent any kind of protests against them (BART police shot a suspect at point blank range, while the suspect was pinned on the ground by multiple police officers).

Fourth. interfearing with communications are the acts of totalitarian governments around the world, and it is not compatible with Freedom.

Re:Next they'll turn off the power (3, Insightful)

Idbar (1034346) | about 2 years ago | (#39865173)

I certainly hope she doesn't have family and face the need of calling them to inform them about a situation they may run into.
I wonder if shutting all communications down in Manhattan in September 11 would had significantly helped as this person is claiming.

Fixing up the story (3, Insightful)

RenHoek (101570) | about 2 years ago | (#39864621)

sed 's/a temporary disruption of cell phone service, under extreme circumstances where harm and destruction are imminent/anything that could be bad PR/'

Illegal... (1, Insightful)

trekrem (1051670) | about 2 years ago | (#39864629)

That action by BART was illegal, plain and simple. I can't wait to hear the amount of the fine they receive!

Re:Illegal... (1)

trekrem (1051670) | about 2 years ago | (#39864733)

"that it must have the tools at its disposal"

The problem there is this was not a tool at its (BART) disposal.

Re:Illegal... (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39864833)

That action by BART was illegal, plain and simple. I can't wait to hear the amount of the fine they receive!

Apparently its illegal to jam cell phone transmitters, but not technically illegal to unplug them.
Its entirely possible the FCC will find itself powerless in this fight, because there is no mandatory "must operate" regulations in place.

It may come down to who actually owns the cell/wifi transmitters in the underground stations where commercial services can't reach without the transit authority's assistance. It may end up being similar to cutting off the water to a coffee vendor in the stations - purely a contract dispute.

If you are going to rush in and pronounce something "illegal, plain and simple" please provide your credentials, and what year you were appointed to the bench.

Re:Illegal... (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 2 years ago | (#39864925)

"...where the tortfeasor disrupts the ability of one party to perform his obligations under the contract, thereby preventing the plaintiff from receiving the performance promised"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference [wikipedia.org]

It would be interesting to see an analysis of whether civil rights laws were violated.

Re:Illegal... (2)

Xtifr (1323) | about 2 years ago | (#39865001)

Heck, BART didn't even have cell phone service in many parts of their system up until a couple of years ago. Especially in the East Bay.

Re:Illegal... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#39865613)

By that logic it's quite acceptable to cut gas, water, power and a lot of other things to any place you might wish (provided you're the government), for no other reason than "I wanna", because humanity survived for ages without any of those. Don't like that blogger? Snip his wire!

Re:Illegal... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39865023)

Exactly.

A contract dispute, a civil matter, and quite possibly not something under the FCC jurisdiction.

Maybe the Cell carriers sue BART for disruption of services by cutting power to their micro-cells or something.

But Bart would likely have been one party to the contract to provide power to the carrier's micro-cells, whereas Tortuous Interference pretty much requires action by a third party, not a party to the contracts.

Was there an "out" in Bart's contract with these carriers?

Were there even Carrier Contracts involved, or was BART using off the shelf Cellular repeaters that anyone can buy [wpsantennas.com] , which they would be fully within their right to turn off?

There are a lot of questions to be answered before some guy on slash dot can pronounce something illegal, plain and simple.

Re:Illegal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865233)

Are you sure that you're not on the BART board of directors or in their employ?

Re:Illegal... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#39866023)

Were there even Carrier Contracts involved, or was BART using off the shelf Cellular repeaters that anyone can buy, which they would be fully within their right to turn off?

There are a lot of questions to be answered before some guy on slash dot can pronounce something illegal, plain and simple.

Sure. But what we can do is pronounce it immoral and a societally destructive abuse of power. And spare me the claims of BART being a private enterprise - they operate at the will of the public even if they have wrapped themselves in fine print and legalese to try to shirk their responsibilities.

Re:Illegal... (2, Interesting)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | about 2 years ago | (#39865077)

Apparently its illegal to jam cell phone transmitters

A felony if I'm not mistaken.

but not technically illegal to unplug them. Its entirely possible the FCC will find itself powerless in this fight, because there is no mandatory "must operate" regulations in place.

Uh, no. Cell phone operators [and telcos] are common carriers, subject to Title II regulations, under the Communications Act of 1934. Common carriers [by definition] are prohibited from discriminating service, based on the content of messages (e.g. voice, data). The FCC has complete authority to regulate this matter [from this Act].

If you are going to rush in and pronounce something "illegal, plain and simple" please provide your credentials, and what year you were appointed to the bench.

Et tu, Brute?

Re:Illegal... (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39865097)

It has yet to be established that the cell service in the subway was common carrier.
It may have been simple off the shelf cell repeaters operated by Bart itself.

After all, you don't find Verizon suing Bart do you?

And further, there was no discrimination. Simply a system wide outage.

Re:Illegal... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865373)

There was no jamming of any transmissions, stop trying to change the facts of the situation.

Uh, no. Cell phone operators [and telcos] are common carriers, subject to Title II regulations, under the Communications Act of 1934. Common carriers [by definition] are prohibited from discriminating service, based on the content of messages (e.g. voice, data).

The BART isn't a cell phone operator, telco, or in any other fashion a "common carrier". And even if they were, shutting down a transmitter is not illegal and does not discriminate based on service type as it affects ALL functions. Even then, a signal relay between you and the tower probably doesn't really qualify as a service disruption as the tower is essentially the "demarck" point, not the signal booster.

Seriously, either go get an education or stop acting like you know what you're talking about, because you don't.

Re:Illegal... (1)

aonic (878715) | about 2 years ago | (#39865159)

I'm surprised at the lack of outrage. BART is a governmental agency, with devolved powers from the State of California, its own police force, and a charter. If a city or county cut off wireless communication to prevent a protest, it would fly in the face of our incorporated first amendment rights to speech and assembly. From a legal standpoint, BART is held to the same standard.

Re:Illegal... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#39865403)

I'm not sure where the constitution, bill of rights or anything else mentions tweeting. Care to enlighten us?

Re:Illegal... (1)

trekrem (1051670) | about 2 years ago | (#39865387)

Okay Mr. Ice Bike Esq., go disconnect the power from a cellular site... Let me know what happens.

Re:Illegal... (2)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39865661)

Nobody shut down a cellular site.
Bart shut down THEIR OWN repeaters in the subway. The street level commercial services were not affected.
Now don't you feel stupid for not reading TFA.?

Re:Illegal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39866559)

Here's what I don't understand... how does blocking communication signals protect people? Is communication not a mandatory tool during an emergency? Wait for the lawsuits when somebody dies in those stations while the cell sites were knowingly turned off...

They are full of crap, of course! (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#39864633)

temporary disruption of cell phone service, under extreme circumstances where harm and destruction are imminent, is a necessary tool to protect passengers

Even if we accept that premise - who decides if "harm and destruction" is imminent? Oh, that's right, BART decides that. A completely unbiased reviewer, they are.

Re:They are full of crap, of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865021)

You are a twit. Mobile devices are routinely used as detonators, also mobile access./data is not a 'right' but a service you purchase. What are you going to do? crowdsource your threat analysis?

Re:They are full of crap, of course! (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39865067)

You are a twit. Mobile devices are routinely used as detonators, also mobile access./data is not a 'right' but a service you purchase. What are you going to do? crowdsource your threat analysis?

What happens when the mobile device is set to explode when it loses connectivity?

Re:They are full of crap, of course! (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 years ago | (#39865155)

Ooh...sounds like "Speed 3" has a plot!

That would actually be an entertaining way to solve this problem. If BART says they're going to turn off the cell service, just phone in a bomb threat saying that there's a bomb that will explode if the service is turned off.

Re:They are full of crap, of course! (1)

tftp (111690) | about 2 years ago | (#39865181)

It should be trivial to keep the transmitters running but to stop routing calls. All incoming calls are not getting through, all outgoing calls report "busy" or "no answer."

Re:They are full of crap, of course! (1)

Adriax (746043) | about 2 years ago | (#39865223)

Trigger set to a stream of Speed over netflix.
"Pop quiz BART. There's a bomb on your subway. If I don't get to watch my movie it goes off. What are you gonna do?"

Re:They are full of crap, of course! (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39865275)

It should be trivial to keep the transmitters running but to stop routing calls. All incoming calls are not getting through, all outgoing calls report "busy" or "no answer."

But my detonator sends a request to a remote server which is supposed to sign the reply using a symmetric cryptographic key whose paired key resides on the detonator. If if doesn't get a correctly signed response after trying for several minutes, the detonator explodes.

If I don't want to buy a data plan for my detonator phone, it can use text messages or DTMF phones over a voice call to contact the other computer.

Re:They are full of crap, of course! (1)

mpe (36238) | about 2 years ago | (#39865277)

If BART says they're going to turn off the cell service, just phone in a bomb threat saying that there's a bomb that will explode if the service is turned off.

Just about any terrorist can make a bomb threat. Even those incapable of making and delivering an actual bomb.

We can't accept that (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#39865337)

So what if harm is imminent? Suppose a train derails or a terrorist bombs it, how is turning the phone supposed to stop the casualties?

But hey I can help them I know first aid! Let's go through the DRSABCD steps.

D - check for Danger.
R - check for Response.
S - Send for help .... does anyone have a working phone?

In any major incident the emergency services would greatly appreciate having eyes and ears on the ground straight away which is exactly what their call centre provides.

Re:They are full of crap, of course! (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#39865383)

Considering that Bart is tasked with the safety of their passengers who would you suggest would be a better choice? Bart did not cut off all protest; they just curtailed protest in a dangerous controlled area. Do you really want hundreds of agitated people crowded platforms with trains whizzing by? The protest could just as well have been done above ground in a much safer manner.

As someone who rides it 5 days a week, (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864663)

I don't know what the difference is. There is shitty, background service through about the Montgomery station, with blackout points down below the City (don't do that ride much), and MacArthur through Berkeley is a blackout. I know, bitching about spotty service, etc. but try to get anything done on the train. I just read and don't even bother.

Re:As someone who rides it 5 days a week, (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#39864791)

Rarely take bart, only when I have business in Oakland, and every experience has been from inconvinant to pure hell.

Re:As someone who rides it 5 days a week, (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 years ago | (#39864923)

Rarely take bart, only when I have business in Oakland, and every experience has been from inconvinant to pure hell.

OK, BART isn't exactly an Uber cab but it's hardly "pure hell". I used to commute between Daly City and Embarcadero each morning and afternoon, and it was nothing if not unexciting. The trains departed on time and arrived on time, and the only inconvenience was that I couldn't refresh Twitter or text my wife between stations while underground. Now I frequently ride between Fruitvale and Embarcadero, and the least pleasant aspect is that you get jostled around a little bit on the way through Oakland. I even get 3G service while under the bay (get your "BART: Transbay Tube [foursquare.com] " foursquare checking while you wait!).

Crowded, sometimes, but the BART is nowhere near what you describe.

Re:As someone who rides it 5 days a week, (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#39864999)

I said "From INCONVIENIANT to pure hell.", its never been pure joy, and I've been stranded in Oakland once. OAKLAND. I like your kool-aid, make I have a cup?

Re:As someone who rides it 5 days a week, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39866153)

I like your spelling lessons, where do I sign up? So far in this thread you've spelt "inconvenient" 3 different ways, none of them correct, and once in ALL CAPS (because we all know CAPS LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL).

And spare me the "I'm dyslexic", before you even start. Firefox has a spell-checker BUILT INTO IT these days. You're not dyslexic, you're just stupid. Also, I had a good friend at university who was (severely) dyslexic, and his misspellings were always consistent. Wrong, but consistently wrong.

Re:As someone who rides it 5 days a week, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864941)

Reading fake English like "inconvinant" IS pure hell. Learn English or shut the fuck up.

So (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#39864741)

If I use a personal jammer to silence that idiot yakking away at 120dB about who is sleeping with who and who has the funny sores on them, it's cool as long as I do it so that 'someone' doesn't kick his ass?

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865435)

f I use a personal jammer

-1 Offtopic

Re:So (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#39865767)

How so? If I can't even cause a 3 second disruption within 20 ft of my location to knock out 1 phone call, why is it OK for BART to black out large areas. Especially considering that I can personally verify that there is no emergency or lost child in range and they can't.

They need to quit the lying (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864747)

The real reason they shut off cell phone service was to disrupt the electronic communication of the organizers of the protest. If there was a 'safety' reason, it was to disrupt the protest in the interest of safety. Down that path lies the complete elimination of public assembly 'in the interest of safety'.

    I could see their argument if say they had a credible threat of a cellphone-triggered bomb, but trying to disrupt a protest's electronic communication does NOT cut it.

Re:They need to quit the lying (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#39865351)

Think of this scenario (the one that BART is afraid would happen);
1. Spotters are deployed to every Bart station and report the number of police at each station to a central command.
2. The central command selects a number of stations and sends a text message to all spotters and protesters to converge on those stations.
3. Hundreds of protesters converge on a small number of stations overloading the platforms.
4. People get pushed off the overloaded platforms onto the tracks where they are hit by trains or killed by the third rail
5. Bart closes down system and/or gets sued for not dealing with the situation.
6. Thousands of commuters can not get home because of a few hundred misguided protesters.

Subway platforms are inherently dangerous as there are no barriers between people and the tracks. If you want to protest, go ahead but do it in a safe manner in a safe place. Wouldn't a protest be as useful if it was done above ground and away from the danger area? In fact it would work better as it would not alienate all the commuters who could not get home and/or to work.

Re:They need to quit the lying (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#39865367)

Yes I can fully see how a smart terrorist would concoct a plot to trigger a bomb using an unreliable technology in one of the least reliable places it is likely to work.

Terrorist 1: Today is our day of glory. Those American pigs will feel the full wrath of Allah's glory. Destroy the subway!
Terrorist 2: (Dials Phone) Mwahahahahahaha!
Sexy Voice: "The person you are calling is unavailable, if you would like to leave a message please do so after the beep." *beep*
Terrorist 2: Hello bomb? Please go off when you get this. Thanks. Ciao.

Re:They need to quit the lying (1)

adolf (21054) | about 2 years ago | (#39865713)

Agreed. I'd like to add that even if disabling (read: literally simply turning off some BART-operated bi-directional amplifiers and/or a DAS) cell service does effectively disrupt the organization of an ongoing protest, that this simply moves the protesters into more conventional forms of organization.

Simple audio and both licensed and unlicensed land mobile 2-way radio come to mind immediately as being absolutely useful for such a task. Leaders in the tunnel can communicate with intermediates outside the tunnel using portable 2-way radios (which can legally have vastly higher output levels than a handheld cellphone which is restricted to 600mW ERP), who in turn use the topside cell network (which is not controlled by BART) to communicate with others using phone calls, SMS, and the greater Internet.

Meanwhile, these same leaders can use simple audio cues (ie: a megaphone) to coordinate efforts underground.

End result is that all that a shutdown does is up the ante slightly: Next time, folks will be better prepared.

Meanwhile, intentional active jamming (to block a licensed 2-way radio) is a whole different sort of game than passively turning some cellular repeaters off. The FCC has always had a very dim view of intentional, active jamming of licensed communications.

So, as I see it, here's the score in this card game:

BART: 1
Protesters: 0

But BART has played their cards, and shown their hand. Meanwhile, the rest of us have plenty of perfectly legitimate tricks up our sleeves.

To quote Counterstrike: "Terrorists WIN!"

(Disclaimer: I really don't give a shit either way -- it's not my fight.)

BART Defends Shooting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864761)

What's their defense in shooting an unarmed and detained man?

Convenience only (1, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39864789)

Yeesh, whadda think people did before cell phones in an emergency? I believe they used to think, and act (and in that order) -- not just dial 911 and then stand there with a cell phone camera watching the poor bastard suffer. I, for one, wish they'd make the change permanent: Imagine riding public transportation without some obnoxious mouth breather yelling at his girlfriend the entire trip, while you're packed in like sardines with other passengers. It'd be better than Chuck Norris descending from heaven and cock punching every douchebag on the train.

Re:Convenience only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864843)

Yeesh, whadda think people did before cell phones in an emergency? I believe they used to think, and act

It's not that people have to have the cell phones - it's that BART should not have the power to disable them on a whim
What if they required putting away all eye glasses? People used to manage ok without glasses, but who the hell is BART to take that away??

Re:Convenience only (1)

ooshna (1654125) | about 2 years ago | (#39864967)

Yeesh, whadda think people did before cell phones in an emergency?

Umm run to a pay phone?

Re:Convenience only (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 2 years ago | (#39864995)

If I suddenly experience crushing chest pain, I want an EMT, not a helpful bystander. I also want one called as soon as possible, not as soon as someone can find a pay phone.

Reasoning, please... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864815)

Subway cars have dedicated telephony. If there's an emergency, and you think that you by yourself on your own cellphone can do you any good (like every other passenger on the train, compared with the authorities in place to deal with it), you're horribly naive (and probably a libertarian.) Cellphones do not have mandated reliability characteristics like landlines, so no rules are being broken here. In the event of an emergency, the passengers will likely clog any femtocells, full cells, or repeaters regardless.
 
If your subway car is on fire, what the heck is your cellphone going to do for you?

Not to sound harsh, as this is slashdot, but as soon as something is on your side of the tinfoil hat, it doesn't mean you can just give up all critical reasoning and adhere to the same computer science Stallmanism. This is a big world, with complex problems -- and not all of them can fit into the FOSS framework.

I'm not trying to be a troll here, but seriously guys? It used to be that everyone got along fine without cell phones and now they're a lifeblood -- to the degree that when they are taken away, nobody seems to know how to actually take care of themselves.

Re:Reasoning, please... (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 years ago | (#39864933)

If your subway car is on fire, what the heck is your cellphone going to do for you?

"Goodbye, darling. I won't be coming home again. Tell the kids I love them."

If nothing more practical than that, isn't it enough?

Re:Reasoning, please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865487)

If your subway car is on fire, what the heck is your cellphone going to do for you?

"Goodbye, darling. I won't be coming home again. Tell the kids I love them."

If nothing more practical than that, isn't it enough?

You won't get to talk to your darling or your kids. What you will get is a message telling you that your call failed because you and all the other dickheads are trying to have phone sex instead of getting out of the burning car.

Re:Reasoning, please... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#39864937)

If you think all emergencies in and around Bart service areas occur within reach of the emergency callbox inside a train, and that those callboxes always work, I'm afraid you're the one being naive.

Frankly Bart doesn't have a justification for cutting off service. Protests like this first occurred decades before cell phones were invented. If people really are rushing the station for a protest, guess what? Stations have doors that can be closed. Big heavy ones that can't be kicked down.

Re:Reasoning, please... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#39865471)

To turn off the cells in an emergency BART management must know about the emergency. They're quite capable of informing the appropriate emergency services themselves, & probably faster than some random member of the public could.

Look, we're the government, we know what's best. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39864821)

Whatever we do, it's in the name of your best interest. Leave you abandoned in the cold? It's to make you stronger! Raise you from cradle to grave? It's to keep you safe! You want to protect life? No abortions for anybody! You want to protect life? Abortions for some! Free birth control! And tiny flags for others!

--Signed, whatever government you want. We're here to help.

Kinda like flying (1)

netdigger (847764) | about 2 years ago | (#39864975)

Wasn't this whole situation kinda like flying. During take off and landing you are required to turn off all electronic devices, including your cellphones. The reason for this is to prevent interference with the plane's electronics, which could be life threatening. If their goal was to prevent deadly riots I believe that they are within their rights to turn off a service.

If BART really wanted to they could end the contracts with the communication companies and then you wouldn't be able to use your cellphones down there anyways.

In other words... (5, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#39865083)

So for all transit operators out there, the apparent takeaway from all this is to not provide any form of cell service in weak areas. Offering a repeater that you can control, and disabling it can be considered a breech of freedoms and make you liable.

Better to just avoid the whole issue and not do anything that'll make your commuters happier. If they want cell service, they can lobby their cell carriers to point antennas directed into the tunnels themselves. And nevermind emergencies - there's always the emergency phones in the trains.

Anyone who wants to text and use their cellphone, can drive instead.

Re:In other words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39866493)

I completely agree. At what point did it become a God given right to have cell service underground? It was only a few years ago that "I'm going in to a tunnel" was a convenient excuse for dropping a call with someone you didn't want to talk to. Sounds to me like a bunch of people are getting pissy about not being able to play games on the train. I have an idea, read the paper.

Studies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865247)

Have there been any studies of how effective mobile-blocking is in evacuating an area?

I suspect a lot of people would get downright uneasy about being without connection. Especially when surrounded by a lot of downright uneasy strangers plus apparently there's some sort of altercation going down. This might be good leverage against 'spectator mode', and time-wasted calling friends to share the excitement.

Like imagine if they tried telling everybody to stay put, plus cut mobile. People would bolt way faster than if they had mobile to check for info and give distraction. Blocking has real crowd-shaping effect, and there ought to been a few papers by now.

next (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39865259)

Next will be the forced wearing of peril sensitive sunglasses.

Here's a good rule of thumb... (1)

lemur666 (313121) | about 2 years ago | (#39865485)

Wither goes local government, wither goes the federal government.

Barring intervention from the supreme court.

Given the feckless state of our current federal legislature, this is why it's important to elect the right person to the presidency: They will pick the next batch to decide this sort of thing.

Disconnect (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about 2 years ago | (#39865493)

There's a disconnect between principle and practice here. Authorities should absolutely be able to disable communications in "extreme circumstances where harm and destruction are imminent". A cell-phone triggered bomb on the train, for example.

But what does that have to do with last August's shutdown? Harm and violence were not imminent in that case. You'd be hard-pressed to argue that violence was even *likely*.

We have given the authorities tools to use to stop mass violence -- everything from telecomms control to tear gas. But using those tools *before* the violence starts is always an abuse of power.

You know where I heard that kind of rhetoric last? (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#39865625)

Living this close to the former iron curtain, I have heard and read that kind of apologies before. Every time there was an unrest in one of those countries, something like this would be sprouted. "For the safety", "to protect order", "to keep people from misusing tools" and "what could have happened if we didn't step in".

So far the difference is still that we don't get shot.

At least not yet.

Re:You know where I heard that kind of rhetoric la (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39866211)

Ackshully, knowing BART:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/07/bart-police-shoot-kill-man-platform-civic-center-station

There ya go.

AC

If they can do then the bad guys (1)

Shivetya (243324) | about 2 years ago | (#39866207)

If BART can do this then the bad guys have half their work done for them, they simply need to get control of this process when they want to cause even more mayhem.

It would seem to me... (1)

DekkerAvesque (822275) | about 2 years ago | (#39866421)

It would seem to me that a cellphone would be an incredibly useful thing to have in an emergency situation... Especially so loved ones could contact you and see if you are in said situation...

No Uploading video of shot unarmed Blacks (2)

thatDBA (2626877) | about 2 years ago | (#39866639)

They don't want you to upload videos of unarmed, handcuffed Black males the BART Police have shot in the back before they have had a chance to confiscate your cell phone.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...