Authorities are considering a shut-down of cell phone service in Chicago this weekend. The excuse: the NATO meeting.
The Daily Beast reports that the FBI and Secret Service have standing authority to jam signals and they can also push for the shutdown of cell towers, thanks to “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 303,” which lays out the nation’s official “Emergency Wireless Protocols.”
Without cell phones, people cannot access Facebook or Twitter unless they are at home or can get to a Starbucks, where there is free WiFi.
Without Facebook and Twitter, there won’t be a “Chicago spring” to match “Arab spring.”
According to the National Communications System, the protocol details a “shutdown and restoration process for use by commercial and private wireless networks during national crises.” It was created after the London bombings in 2005, when federal security services shut off cellular networks in New York’s tunnel, fearing a similar attack. Since then, cell phone jammers have been used in situations like President Obama’s inauguration, with the Secret Service claiming there was a bomb threat, as well as a number of other cases.
This was done in San Francisco recently. Police shut off cell phone service in the Bay Area Rapid Transit System.
What if locals had to call 911? They had better get to a land line. Or to a Starbucks.
President Obama recently signed an executive order to apply to Iran or Syria if either should block access to the Internet. But blocking cell phones is OK. That’s not authoritarian,. That is merely precautionary.
This potential development is just one of the drastic security measures Chicago law enforcement agencies are considering. They’ve also invested as much as $1 million on riot-control equipment, including at least one long-range acoustic device, or LRAD, and upgrades to shields to be worn by the police.
Be prepared. That’s the Boy Scouts’ marching song. Be prepared, as through life you march along.