Don’t Have a Cow, Man!

MP900178988 Barely a week after I posted about riots, the use of social media and the Brandenburg Standard, we get San Francisco riots (or should I say, "protests"), BART's attempts to prevent the use of social media and an acrimonious debate about the Brandenburg Standard.

But I'm a lawyer and as such, I look at the facts on the ground.  Is social media being used as a vehicle to incite imminent lawless action (not the peaceful variety, after all, one may break the law in a peaceful manner)?  Does the "state" have a compelling interest to protect the public?  Is jamming cell signals within the limited range of the stations a reasonable response to a perceived imminent threat?  Is there a private/public argument to be made?

We argue; judges decide.

Here's one I didn't see discussed; the authorities may have done the rioters a favor – in a backwards capacity.  After all, in the process of preventing communication between potential wrong-doers, they may have prevented themselves from collecting electronic evidence that might have ultimately led to identifying and prosecuting those same wrong-doers.

If only it were that simple.  This assumes, for example, that outgoing text messages timed out.  Depending on the device – and the network it communicates with – if the user reconnected to the network before that happened…