The BART Board of Directors held a special meeting yesterday to discuss the controversial shutdown of its wireless service on Aug 11, an action it took to disrupt a planned protest that was organized online.

The action touched off a debate as to the legality of BART’s action, and angered activists that have targeted the transit agency because of the July shooting death of Charles Hill by a BART police officer. In relatiation, computer hackers, working under the banner of a loosely knit group called Anonymous, broke into BART-related web sites, releasing the private information of customers and BART police officers. In addition, a series of protests called for by the group online have disrupted train service as BART closed down certain stations during evening commutes. Forty-five people were arrested during the latest action on Monday.

The upshot of yesterday’s BART board meeting from the Chronicle:

BART directors, slammed with criticism over the transit system’s decision to shut down underground wireless service to stop a demonstration, agreed Wednesday they should limit use of that tactic to extreme situations in which public safety is endangered.

The BART Board of Directors, at a special meeting called to discuss the controversial wireless shutdown, did not vote on a policy, citing state open meeting laws. But all of the directors said they favor a policy – and most believe it should restrict when the transit agency would shut off the antennas that provide cell phone and wireless data service in BART’s subways.

“I think we reached a consensus,” said Bob Franklin, board president, “that it should only be used in an extreme case where the public is imminently at risk.”

Here’s BART’s archived video of the meeting. If the embedded video isn’t showing up or doesn’t work for you, you can also find it here, top right of the page.

Archived Video: Complete BART Board Meeting on Cell Phone Shutoff 25 August,2011Jon Brooks

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