An international group of hackers has threatened to wage a cyberwar against Bay Area Rapid Transit (CA) in retaliation for the agency’s decision to cut cell phone service last week. BART interrupted wireless access at selected stations as a safety measure during a planned protest about a July fatal shooting by BART police. BART described the reasons for the shutdown in a statement on its website:
Organizers planning to disrupt BART service on August 11, 2011 stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police. A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators. BART temporarily interrupted service at select BART stations as one of many tactics to ensure the safety of everyone on the platform.
The Associated Press reports that the activist group, known as Anonymous, called for a protest on Monday afternoon in BART’s Civic Center station and issued the following statement: “We will set those who have been censored free from their silence. That’s a promise. Anonymous demands that this activity revolving around censorship cease and desist and we know you are already planning to do this again. We will not issue any more warnings.” The group also published contact information for BART’s directors and encouraged people to call and email them.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, some free-speech advocates compared BART’s actions to those of the Egyptian government, which blocked Internet and cell phone service during last spring’s protests. “I am shocked that BART thinks they can use authoritarian control tactics,” said state senator Leland Yee in a statement. “BART’s decision was not only a gross violation of free speech rights; it was irresponsible and compromised public safety.”
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