We all worry about the power the government has over certain aspects of our lives - from listening in on our phone calls, to using GPS to track our location, to even using hidden cameras as surveillance tools. And one area that's extremely worrisome is the "kill switch" the government possesses to shut down cellular phone communication.
Recently, concerns over this only grew worse as the Supreme Court turned a blind eye to a claim made by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPI). The claim asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to disclose its plans for disabling cellular phone service during events labeled only as "disasters."
This past Monday, the Supreme Court decided against a further examination of an earlier ruling by the federal appeals court. This ruling, which was made last May, stated the Department of Homeland Security was not obligated to release its plans for such measures. The decision was made by claiming that the Freedom of Information Act could not prevent the government from withholding information it deemed essential to the protection of public safety.
The concern is mostly related to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee's "Standard Operating Procedure 303." This rule gives officials permission to shut down wireless networks in localized areas, like a bridge or a block, or even areas as large as an entire city.
So far, there have been no instances where this practice has been used, but it's still concerning that such power exists. Especially when so many people rely on their cellular phones to communicate with their loved ones.