DHS Ordered to Explain Secret Plan to Shut Down Phone Service

phone serviceThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is questioning the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to keep secret its plan to shut down mobile phone service during “critical emergencies.” The court originally sided with the federal government that the plan should not be disclosed under a Freedom of Information Act request, but has since revisited the ruling and has ordered the DHS to explain the secrecy.

According to Ars Technica, the Department of Homeland Security plan, known as Standing Operating Procedure 303, was created after mobile phones were used to detonate explosives in London.

Court documents explain that SOP 303 is a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless devices during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices” . . .

As noted by The Blaze, outside groups have been requesting information about SOP 303 for years. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) became particularly interested in SOP 303 in 2011, when officials attempted to stop a protest by shutting down cellular phone service near a San Francisco subway station. Likewise, Bay Area Rapid Transit shut down a portion of its train service during the same period. Following that incident, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the federal government to disclose the federal document that granted the DHS the authority to enact SOP 303. The government agreed to the request, but redacted much of the document. (Read more from “DHS Ordered to Explain Secret Plan to Shut Down Phone Service” HERE)

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