All Articles Tagged "twitter organizing"
The late Gil Scott-Heron used to say that the “revolution won’t be televised.” Nowadays, it appears that certain dictators and oppressive governmental agencies around the globe are doing their best to silence or limit the voices of their citizens.
As robust democratic movements have recently transpired in Iran amid the election protests opposing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and in Cairo during its struggle against the tyrannical leadership of former president Hosni Mubarak, the world has been able to witness injustices and brutal behavior- firsthand and live- via Twitter and Facebook like never before.
In the case of Egypt, many individuals were also able to see the actions of their government to shut down the access of the Internet to limit civil unrest. One would think that similar actions to block communication in the United States should not occur due to constitutional law and state-specific legal protections. But, our nation and others have lately witnessed the now-infamous shutdown of underground cell phone service by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to disrupt protesters in San Francisco who have become fed up with alleged police brutality.
The First Amendment of the Constitution does allow peaceful demonstrations and the freedom of assembly as means to redress grievances. From a state perspective, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a 1967 California Supreme Court ruling found that a city could not prohibit non-disruptive political activity inside a railroad station. Taking this into consideration, did BART officials violate the free speech rights of the protesters by cutting power to its wireless nodes to prevent live blogging? I believe that BART did overstep its boundaries, although they may not have technically violated any laws.
Certainly, one can make the argument that BART turned off cell phone hardware on its own property to address public safety and thus restricted communication based on reasonable and neutral viewpoints. Thus, there are no legal issues. And, to be sure, this is definitely different from a case where the government would shut down private networks or interfere with communication on private property.