August 19, 2011 -- Professors Jerry Kang and Eugene Volokh commented on the shut down of cell phone service by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officials. Their comments appear in a Fast Company article.
Right-leaning legal pundit Eugene Volokh claims BART was in the clear because service disruptions only occurred on their own property, while the often left-leaning ACLU and the EFF (along with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee) have publicly questioned the legality of BART's decision.
Another expert on telecommunications law, Jerry Kang of the UCLA Law School, seconded the fact that BART's decision took the transit provider into a legal gray area. According to Kang, "It is illegal for persons to 'willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications.' [...] But there is a difference between affirmatively jamming a signal sent by a carrier and deciding not to provide, repeat, or boost that carrier’s signal. Mobile providers have been granted licenses to use spectrum frequencies by the FCC. In addition to the spectrum, they need to put up antennas. Usually, they contract with private parties to site these antennas. Due to basic physics, the above-ground signals don’t penetrate underground. Therefore, the mobile providers must have created some agreement with BART to site some antennas (repeaters) underground."
To read the entire article, click here.
Professor Volokh also discussed the topic on NPR's "Science Friday."