In 2005, amid reports that the London subway bombers had used cellphones as detonators, the White House secretly established the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 303, which granted the government the ability to unilaterally shut down all cellphone service in an area of its choosing when it feels it needs to.
The details of the procedure are still not public, and a series of lawsuits aiming to at the very least get the basics of how the law even theoretically works have faced massive official opposition, with the White House and DHS desperate to avoid any oversight.
The power has become increasingly controversial in recent years, as cellphone communication has increasingly replaced landline phones, and would be more essential than ever during “emergencies,” the very time the administration wants to be able to silence them.
An even bigger concern is that, with the details of the law a secret, officials can just flat out abuse it to silence dissent. In 2011, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system used the kill switch to shut off all cellphone services in several stations specifically to try to prevent organization of a public protest there.
The administration argues that even letting the public know the basic outline of the policy would itself be a threat to national security, and while courts have been somewhat skeptical on this claim, whenever the administration plays the terrorism card they seem to get what they want, so the safe money is on the power remaining unchecked.
7 thoughts on “White House Pushes to Keep Power to Shut Down Cellphone Networks”
"When the people fear the government you have tyranny…when the government fears the people you have liberty." – John Basil Barnhill
You need to rethink this quote.
Seems that when the government fears the people you get even greater tyranny.
Stasi America, marching morons.
Let's call it the Free Speech Kill Switch.
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They have just gone insane.
I don't agree the government ought to have this power. However, I can understand that the Feds seek it for the Department of Homeland Security.
But for BART? What's next? Who thought a train company or a bus company should be able to shut down all cell phone service in an area, several areas?
Also, protest is Constitutionally protected, with the highest level of scrutiny, for both free speech and the right to assemble. Now a mass transit authority can prevent that, did prevent that, and the Feds won't even talk about it. That is crazy. It is just so far out into unreasonable it is hard to credit it could be a real dispute, yet it already happened and the Feds are defending it successfully.
This is another recipe for disaster.
You can easily see some type of "emergency" arising
( i am thinking of type of an "emergency"
on a much,much smaller scale—-say perhaps a crowd disturbance—-authorities could always spin any such "minor" incident into something far larger)
authorities could demand the use of such a "kill-switch"
and in their "wisdom" create the very kind of situation which they are trying to prevent.
some people call this a self-fulfilling prophecy.
the truth is that such measures are always being sought by people in authority
whose only meaning in life is to cover their own arses (as we say in the UK)
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