opBART_exiledsurfer.jpgBART’s decision last Thursday to cut off cell phone service underground and in several of their SF platforms to avoid a possible protest has become international news, shocked civil and digital rights experts, and been the inspiration for a hack of a BART website and another protest scheduled for 5 PM Monday at Civic Center Station.

Of course, all this happened over the weekend, when you might have been doing something besides following the news. So in an effort to help you catch up, we’ve organized an overview for you of the coverage of the news as it developed.

In the interest of conciseness, I’ve only included coverage that involves analysis or reporting, (skipping anything that’s purely aggregation and reblogs) and am highlighting information from each report that seems especially remarkable or relevant.

If you see anything I missed, or should be added in, please do drop me a line, or leave a link in the comments.

BART Cuts Off Cell Phone Service To Riders

BART Officer Contradicts Spokesperson, Says Transit Agency Did Block Cell Phone Service Thursday Night [Appeal]

Cell service cut on BART during protests [Biz Times]

Reaction To This Move Is Swift

BART Defends Decision To Cut Off Cell Service After Civil Rights, FCC Concerns Raised [Appeal]

Legal questions swirl around BART’s cellular interruption [Chron]
The EFF’s Kevin Bankston says “It’s a particular frightful irony that the first time that authorities in the U.S. would essentially cut off cell phone communications to quell a protest, that it would happen in San Francisco, which considers itself a bastion of tolerance for political expression.”

BART overreached when it blocked cell phone use [Chron]
In an editorial, SF’s largest daily tells readers “Let BART know it has overstepped liberties with this action. Cell phone service is needed for safety at all times.”

BART Pulls a Mubarak in San Francisco [EFF]
The Electronic Frontier Foundation asks (among other things) “Was pulling the plug on people’s phones a quick, on-the-spot decision, or part of a protest-response plan vetted by BART’s lawyers?” A good thing to read for a clear breakdown of the objections to BART’s move.

BART: ‘We Were Within Our Legal Right’ to Shut Down Cell Service [BC]
“The idea to shut down cell service came from BART spokesman Linton Johnson, who said he suggested it to BART police. BART’s interim general manager, Sherwood Wakeman, briefed BART’s Board of Directors on the tactic before the planned protest Thursday.”

BART admits halting cell service to stop protests [Chron]
“BART owns and controls the wireless network strung through its subways, and BART police ordered it switched off, after receiving permission from BART interim General Manager Sherwood Wakeman, former general counsel for the transit district.”

BART Defends Controversial Wireless Shutdown During Planned Protest [KCBS]
“BART spokesman Jim Allison maintained that the cellphone disruptions were legal as the agency owns the property and infrastructure. He added while they didn’t need the permission of cellphone carriers to temporarily cut service, they notified them as a courtesy.”

BART Director: Cell Phone Shutdown Didn’t Go Through Proper Channels [BC]
Says BART spokesperson Linton Johnson: cell phone service “is an amenity. We survived for years without cellphone service…Now they’re bitching and complaining that we turned it off for three hours?”

BART defends cutting off cellphone service [ABC7]
ABC gets reactions from BART passengers, some of whom support the decision to cut cell service, some of whom do not.

BART: 1st Amendment issues mount over cell shutdown [Chron]
“Marvin Ammori, a University of Nebraska law professor, said in a blog posting that BART’s action – which he described as a “terrible idea” – might pass legal muster if courts judged it a “content-neutral” measure to promote public safety.”

BART’s Move Attracts Attention Of Hacker Group Anonymous, Protest Planned For Monday Night

BART Braces For Anonymous-Organized Protest Monday [Appeal]

BART protests rescheduled for Monday rush hour at Civic Center [Ex]
“The newly scheduled action is again aimed at shootings by BART police officers, and that protesters will be wearing blood-stained shirts Monday ‘for remembrance to the blood that is on the hands of the BART police.’”

Hacker group threatens cyberwar against BART [Chron]

Anonymous plans BART Web site attack, protest [CNET]

Hacking collective ‘Anonymous’ plans to shut down BART website today [Ex]

Update on potential interruption to BART’s website and other online services [BART]
“We’re disappointed to announce that the BART website may be subject to an online attack today,”

Anonymous Takes Down A BART-Related Website, Leaks Data From It

BART Calls In Feds After Hack Exposes User Info, Another Cell Block Possible For Protest Monday [Appeal]

BART Takes Site Offline After Anonymous-Organized Hack, Braces For Protest Planned For Monday Evening Commute [Appeal]

Anonymous defaces BART site, leaks user data [CNET]

Hacktivists Hit BART Web Sites [BC]

Shadowy Internet group ‘Anonymous’ attacks BART website [Ex]
The hack was done “because ‘BART doesn’t give a s*** about it’s [sic] customers and riders and to show that the people will not allow you to kill us and censor us.’”

Hackers strike BART website, protesting ‘censorship’ [Ex]

Anonymous goes after BART [bluoz]

Anonymous’ #opBART: Black Faxes, Remove BART Website, and Protest in SF [IndyBay] [IndyBay] [IndyBay] [IndyBay]

Anonymous hacks SF’s myBART website. Thousands of names, addresses & numbers released. [The Next Web]

#opBART Releases Unsecured User Info Database of MyBart.gov [IndyBay]

BART Website Hacked By Group ‘Anonymous’ [KCBS]
“One woman said her number and personal information were unlisted and she couldn’t believe it would be compromised like this.”

Experts say transit agency website an easy target [AP via Chron]
“Josh Shaul, chief technology officer of Application Security Inc., said the hackers exploited a vulnerability in the site’s security. Shaul characterized the attack as “low tech” and said the hack could have been accomplished by downloading free software available online.”

BART website hacked, customer info leaked [Chron]
“BART ‘stored their members’ information with virtually no security,’ the hackers wrote. ‘Any 8-year-old with an Internet connection could have done what we did to find it. On top of that, none of the info, including the passwords, was encrypted.’”

Anonymous hacks BART website, steals passwords [ABC7]
“Attempts to hack the actual BART.gov website have failed so far because of the expansive network of servers.”

Customer information about a mybart.org data breach [BART]
“Today myBART.org account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into the myBART system. In response to this intrusion, we have temporarily shut down the myBART.org website, and have notified law enforcement authorities.”

BART Decries Hacker Attack, Defends Cell Phone Shutdown [KQED]
“Johnson also said he didn’t believe BART violated any constitutional rights when it shut off cell service. He repeatedly made the point that the constitutional right to safety trumped the right to free speech.”

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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