BART Adopts Cell Shut-Down Rules, FCC Investigates
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agency has approved a set of guidelines which will be used to determine whether or not to shut off cellular services along its routes. The shut down would occur "only in the most extraordinary circumstances that threaten the safety of District passengers, employees and other members of the public, the destruction of District property, or the substantial disruption of public transit service." The guidelines are being adopted in the wake of a service shut down that occurred in August when the BART attempted to disrupt a planned protest. The federal government, however, is going to examine the BART's guidelines. "For interruption of communications service to be permissible or advisable, it must clear a high substantive and procedural bar," wrote Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski. "The legal and policy issues raised by the type of wireless service interruption at issue here are significant and complex. I have asked Commission staff to review these critical issues and consider the constraints that the Communications Act, First Amendment, and other laws and policies place upon potential service interruptions. We will soon announce an open, public process to provide guidance on these issues."