Homeland Security Conceals “Secret Plan to Cut Cell Service” During Emergencies
As communications become increasingly important to online life, and political expression, Homeland Security and law enforcement wield powerful new tools to regulate the signal and control the masses, particularly during crises.
Lawsuits by the Electronic Privacy Information Center have hinged around disclosure of a secret plan that gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the ability to cut cell service and black out communications across entire cities, or on specific areas.
How extensively the plan has been developed remains unknown, as legal action so far has failed to declassify the digital tool of mass control.
via Ars Technica:
The Supreme Court is setting aside a petition from the Electronic Privacy Information Center that demanded the Department of Homeland Security release the US government's secret plan to shutter mobile phone service during disasters.
… ruling that the DHS did not have to divulge the full contents of Standard Operating Procedure 303. That court held that… disclosure would "endanger" public safety.
Under the direction of the so-called National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, SOP 303 allows for the shutting down of wireless networks "within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area." … Local governments, however, have the power to shutter wireless service regardless of SOP 303.
Like all great emergency powers, this high tech control plan has already been abused. Homeland Security used the kill switch to shut off service to cell phones in order to stifle a San Francisco protest:
The privacy group had demanded the document in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest.
… a "unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices." (Here is a copy of a heavily redacted version (PDF) of the protocol that EPIC's lawsuit produced.)