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Bill banning cellphone disruption clears California legislature

News by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday August 14, 2012.

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Government agencies in California may soon be barred from jamming cellular reception without a court order. The California State Senate unanimously approved a bill that requires a government agency to obtain a warrant before disrupting cellphone service. The State Assembly also passed the bill, which now needs Governor Jerry Brown's signature to become a law.

SB1160 was introduced following an incident in August 2011 when Bay Area Rapid Transit intentionally interrupted service at BART stations in downtown San Francisco. The agency said service interruption was necessary to ensure safety during a planned protest, but the decision drew criticism from the ACLU and free speech advocates.

Democratic Senator Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, who introduced the bill, said BART's decision to jam cellphones was anything but safe. Padilla said in a statement, "Open and available communication networks are critical to public safety and a key element of a free and open society."

BART amended its policies to only disrupt service in extreme circumstances, such as an imminent terrorist attack. If signed into law by Governor Brown, SB1160 would force BART and other agencies to get a court order in all other instances.

source: CBS

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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