If threat warrants, cops can stop wireless communication

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — The agency that oversees the San Francisco area transit system is authorizing police to turn off wireless communications in train stations, but only for extraordinary threats.

The board of directors for Bay Area Rapid Transit approved the new policy Thursday. It limits blackouts to cases in which train passengers, employees or property are threatened or a substantial disruption to train service is possible.

Officials crafted the policy after BART was criticized for cutting cellphone and wireless data service in San Francisco subway stations to thwart a planned protest in August.

BART became the first known government agency in the nation to block electronic communications as a means to quell social unrest, and the action touched off an outcry among free speech activists and led to cyber-attacks by the hacker collective Anonymous.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press

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