Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Government or Business can shut down cell service for large crowds
The government or police did not shut down cell phone service in the crowd are of the Boston Marathon, but it could have. Ars Technica ("Law and Disorder") has a detailed article by Timothy B. Lee Tuesday on the matter, link here.
The story was motivated by incorrect AP reports that police had shut down cell phone service during the attacks. Evidence shows that the “pressure cooker” pipe bomb was detonated by a 60s-ers timer, not by cell phone signals.
The issue came up before when Bart officials shut it down near some stations in San Francisco to forestall demonstrations by BART police.
Shutting service down in some areas has been proposed to control or prevent flash mobs, particularly in Britain.
It’s important for individuals to have the ability to receive cell phone calls, for business or even security reasons (such as from their own homes). Some venues turn off cell phone access (some cinemas and theaters do), and a few require surrender of cell phones to enter (such as some embassies like Israel, some areas of the US Capitol, and at least one major gay leather party in New York City).
Here’s a curious YouTube video about blocking a cell phone signal with a Faraday Cage. I don’t know if this would really work.