During the Arab Spring, some Western mobile phone companies got in hot water for agreeing to disable their networks during the revolutionary protests. In August last year, the apparently liberal city of San Francisco copied Egypt and shut down the mobile network across the subway system to disrupt planned protests.
Now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), wants to decide if this government “right” can be enshrined in law.
The public consultation follows last year’s action by the San Francisco BART underground railway which unilaterally decided to switch off mobile coverage to disrupt planned protests. That prompted many people to ask if cutting off the signal wasn’t an infringement of their rights, and a risk to public health, but the BART stands by the belief that within its network it can decide who gets to make calls.
Police forces across America, and occasionally in the UK, have arrested individuals for recording their activities on mobile phones – videos likely destined to be on YouTube moments after being shot.
Watching the watchers is getting harder and harder.