May 17, 2012
Reports suggest local law enforcement agencies are considering shutting down cell phone services in the city over the weekend and while it will most likely be very effective, many are questioning if the move is legitimate.
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.”
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.