Public Knowledge Applauds FCC Notice On Public Safety Wireless Cutoff

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge:

“The Federal Communications Commission yesterday asked for public comment to determine the proper policy when government authorities intentionally disrupt wireless service.  The notice came about as a result of the actions on August 11, 2011 when the San Francisco-area Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) cut off wireless service, claiming a threat to public safety.

“We are pleased that the Commission is looking into this very important issue.  On August 29, 2011, Public Knowledge, along with Broadband Institute of California, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Media Justice, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Access Project, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and National Hispanic Media Coalition, asked the Commission to rule whether the action by BART authorities was legal under the Communications Act.

 “We agree with FCC Chairman Genachowski that any such a cutoff  ‘raises serious legal and policy issues, and must meet a very high bar.’  The same wireless network that police see as a tool for rioters to coordinate is the same wireless network used by peaceful protesters to exercise our fundamental freedoms.  More than that, in any event, the network will be necessary for people in the area to call for help or to let family members know they are not harmed. 

“We look forward to participating in the FCC proceeding.”

The FCC notice is here:

A copy of the emergency petition is here:

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