View Full Version : Pre 'Crime' intervention - US railway blocked phones to quash protest

Magda Hassan
08-13-2011, 01:36 PM
US railway blocked phones to quash protest
California rail transit provider asked mobile providers to cut service to hamper protesters angry over police shooting.
Evan Hill Last Modified: 12 Aug 2011 23:04

The wireless service in BART's underground stations is provided by Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile [GALLO/GETTY]
A rail transit provider in the United States disabled mobile phone services to prevent a planned protest on Thursday, attracting criticism and unflattering comparisons to crackdowns on dissent in the Middle East.

Demonstrators in northern California's Bay Area had planned a protest to condemn the shooting death of Charles Hill, who was killed on July 3 after Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officers responded to complaints about a drunk man at a station in the city of San Francisco.

Hill was fatally shot in the torso - police said he had lunged with a knife - and protesters responded eight days later with a demonstration that shut down three San Francisco BART stations.

BART's police force had been criticised before, in 2009, after a white officer responding with several colleagues to a complaint restrained an unarmed black man on the ground of a train platform and then fatally shot him in the back. That shooting also prompted protests, and the officer served less than two years in prison after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

In a statement released on Friday, BART said organisers planned another protest over the Charles Hill shooting during busy commute times on Thursday, which "could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions".

"Organisers planning to disrupt BART service on [Thursday] stated they would use mobile devices to co-ordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART police," the statement said.

"BART asked wireless providers to temporarily interrupt service at select BART stations as one of many tactics to ensure the safety of everyone on the platform."

James Allison, the deputy chief communications officer for BART, told Cnet News that mobile services were disabled in four San Francisco stations from 4pm to 7pm local time.

But BART offered varying explanations, likely with different legal ramifications, for how the shutdown had actually occurred.

In its first statement, BART said it had asked mobile service providers to stop their service. Then, a BART deputy police chief told the local online news outlet SF Appeal that BART turned off the services itself, as it is allowed to do under its contracts with the providers - Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Around the same time, BART changed its official statement - which was posted on its website - to say that "BART temporarily interrupted service".

Unflattering comparisons

The mobile phone disruption comes at a sensitive time: Regimes in the Middle East have in the past eight months used far harsher Internet and mobile phone blackouts to squelch dissent, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron suggested this week that he would examine ways to hamper the use of social media to prevent civil disturbances and riots like those that brought violence and looting to London and other cities over the past week.

The online hacker group Anonymous launched a campaign, OpBART, to overwhelm the transit agency with faxes and emails, and critics on Twitter began relaying news of the communications shutdown using the hashtag #muBARTek, a play on the last name of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

On Thursday, BART police Lieutenant Andy Alkire told the local Bay City News agency that while it was unusual to block mobile services, it was "a great tool to utilise for this specific purpose".

Linton Johnson, BART's spokesman, told the local KTVU television channel that BART "didn’t try to shut down the protest. They simply turned off the cell service so it couldn't become viral.

"It really is just a cost-benefit analysis of where your freedom of speech begins to threaten the public safety."

Blackout a legal uncertainty

Federal law makes jamming mobile phones illegal in the United States, but in its statement, BART said it had asked wireless providers to "temporarily interrupt" their own services.

If BART did not block service itself, then different regulations would apply, but telecommunications companies still have a legal obligation to provide services as part of being granted federal licenses to operate.

"This may well affect the legality of BART's actions ... but it doesn't affect the impact," said David Wagner, a computer science professor at the University of California - Berkeley who has written about wireless communications security. "In this day and age, deliberately disrupting cellphone service is dangerous to public safety, no matter how it is done."

The wireless service in BART's underground stations is provided by Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Wagner said the providers could have cut off service in multiple ways, some less sophisticated than others.

The companies could simply have shut down cellular base stations providing signals near the particular BART platforms, he said, or they could have employed a more complicated method of triangulation using multiple base stations to determine cell phones' exact locations, which is done for 911 emergency calls.

"It might be technologically possible for carriers to use this location information to target phones within a particular neighbourhood and shut down service to all phones in that neighborhood," he said. "However, this might require more sophistication, so I don't know whether cellphone carriers would have been able to pull this approach together on short notice."

Jesse Choper, a professor at the Berkeley School of Law and a constitutional law expert, said BART could argue it had acted to preserve public safety rather than halt a protest but that blocking mobile services to entire areas may have obstructed more free speech than was necessary.

The US Supreme Court has never dealt with a case such as the BART communication shutdown, Choper said, but in the past has issued opinions that lay out how authorities may prevent protests.

Any move to block a demonstration must satisfy four basic criteria, he said. It must be neutral on the content of the demonstration, serve a significant government interest, leave open an alternative venue, and be narrowly tailored to avoid restricting more free speech than is necessary, he said.

If he were arguing in BART's defence, Choper said, he would say that the broad mobile phone blackout had not discriminated based on the content of the protest, that it served the significant interest of protecting public safety, and that protesters could still have demonstrated elsewhere, such as forming a picket line outside the stations.

But it could be argued, Choper said, that the service shut down had obstructed more communications than needed.

"The question is, what less should they have done," he said. "Would you want them to monitor every call?"

Peter Lemkin
08-13-2011, 01:45 PM
Clearly around the world governments [sic] are resorting to control over communications of all kinds and will increasingly [including censoring internet on temporary and permanent basis] unless people fight back and realize the governments are in theory [in a 'democracy'] theirs and they are not serfs to be dictated to and manipulated by those in power [most usually the upper class Oligarchy].

Keith Millea
08-13-2011, 08:02 PM
The tension seems to be heating up in the Bay Area again.It wouldn't surprise me if the place "went off" this summer.They just had another shooting in SF about three weeks ago,and the only reason things didn't burn then,was because the guy really was a thug,who shot at the police first.There is a very ugly video of the guy bleeding to death on the curb,that I don't wish to post.

San Francisco police say man killed in Bayview incident fired at cops first

By: Mike Aldax (http://www.sfexaminer.com/people/mike-aldax) | Examiner Staff Writer | 07/19/11 4:00 AM

http://www.sfexaminer.com/files/imagecache/large_scaled/blog_images/sfdead10719.jpg (http://www.sfexaminer.com/files/blog_images/sfdead10719.jpg)

Different stories: Information from the Police Department’s ShotSpotter shows that 10 shots were fired from three separate weapons Saturday when a man was killed by officers in the Bayview district. Some witnesses claim the man was unarmed. (Mike Koozmin/The Examiner)

The San Francisco Police Department defended itself Monday against claims two cops fatally shot an unarmed man in the Bayview district last weekend, releasing evidence suggesting the suspect had first fired at them.

Kenneth Harding, 19, of Seattle was killed while fleeing from two cops conducting a Muni fare inspection near the Third Street and Oakdale Avenue stop. His death sparked outrage among people who watched the videotaped aftermath of the incident, some of whom say police shot an unarmed man and refused to let anyone near him as he bled to death.

But at Monday’s news conference, police Chief Greg Suhr presented evidence indicating Harding fired the first shot as he ran through the crowded Mendell Plaza. The evidence included results of a ShotSpotter gunshot-location system used to determine when and where firearms are discharged.

According to data from ShotSpotter — which was deployed in the Bayview in 2008 — three separate firearms unloaded 10 shots over six seconds. The first shot was one of two fired from where Harding was located, police said. Two to six seconds later, eight more shots were fired from where the officers were located.

More below:

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/crime/2011/07/san-francisco-police-data-show-3-weapons-fired-officer-involved-shooting#ixzz1UwM7Y11Z

Keith Millea
08-18-2011, 03:15 PM
Published on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 by Agence France-Presse (http://www.afp.com/)

Hackers Hit San Francisco Subway Police Website

by Justin Sullivan

Hackers on Wednesday posted personal information about more than 100 San Francisco transit officers online after apparently breaching the police association website.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images BART police push back demonstrators who are trying to keep a train from leaving the Civic Center station on August 15 in San Francisco.

An anonymous posting on Pastebin.com (http://pastebin.com/) listed the names, home addresses, email addresses and passwords of 102 officers and said they were taken from the website of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Officers Association.

The website, bartpoa.com (http://www.bartpoa.com/), was inaccessible Wednesday afternoon and displayed a message saying it had been "locked."

The anonymous poster said the information was released in retaliation for BART's bid last week to shut down cellphone service to limit a protest over the fatal shooting by BART police in July of a knife-wielding homeless man.

The hacker group Anonymous, which has targeted BART websites previously, denied involvement in the latest attack, saying it was carried out by "some random joe."

"The leak today of BART officer data could be the work sanctioned by those who truly support anonymous, or agent provocateurs," Anonymous said on a Twitter account @AnonyOps (http://twitter.com/#!/AnonyOps), used by the loose-knit group.

"Hacktivists" with Anonymous have previously attacked the websites of Visa and PayPal, among others, after they stopped accepting donations for Wikileaks.

© 2011 Agence France-Presse


Keith Millea
08-18-2011, 06:36 PM
Democracy Now dedicated a full show about the Bart incident on Tuesday.Also on the show is a member of anonymous talking about the hacking that took place before this latest hack.Good show.....

Ckeck it out Here (http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2011/8/16)....