Submitted by New Media Rights last modified Tue, 05/01/2012 - 5:47pm
New Media Rights filed comments April 30 with the Federal Communications Commission regarding intentional interruption of wireless services. This follows the August 2011 incident where BART chose to interrupt wireless services at its stations. This incident raised serious concerns regarding the authority of governmental agencies and other non-carrier third parties to disrupt wireless networks. The FCC opened a regulatory proceeding to review the issue.
Our comment identifies major problems associated with wireless service shutdowns, especially for consumers of wireless services. We highlight ambiguity in the Communications Act of 1934 that leaves uncertain the responsibilities of third parties such as BART that are not obligated by a federal license. These third parties may, similar to BART, try to use this ambiguity in the future to exercise unilateral authority over shutting off wireless networks in a particular premises under its control by merely cutting off power to the receivers or transmitters used for reception of wireless networks on its premises.
Our comment urges the Commission to clarify that such government agencies and third parties are covered under the provisions of the Communications Act. We provide an array of less intrusive solutions to protecting public safety, including emphasizing the need to strengthen emergency communications as well as to clarify the power of the FCC, state commissions, and courts to authorize wireless shutdowns in the future.
In particular, we want to thank our fellow Shruti Joshi, for her able assistance in preparing this comment.