While several different causes have been blamed for these numerous outages across the country, from cut wires to computer failure, both stories at the time asked if we were witnessing a 'beta test' of some sort...was the government (or someone else) purposely taking down selective parts of our communications system?
Two weeks later, we may have finally gotten an answer to that question...at least if we look in between the lines. Standard Operating Procedure 303 (SOP303) is the federal government's 'kill switch policy'. Once called 'conspiracy theory' by government trolls and the uninformed, the government kill switch program is very real...conspiracy theory no longer, and it's now going before the US Supreme Court.
Were the massive cell phone outages across America on July 15th and August 4th some sort of 'test' to shut down cell phone service to wide swaths of people using numerous different carriers? YouTube videographer Spiro breaks down this new story in the video below with much more below video.
Why would the government or another group want to shut down US cell phone service? This story exerpted from ARSTechnica shares the government's and the Electronic Privacy Information Center's sides of the story.:
The case concerns Standard Operating Procedure 303. A federal appeals court in May said the government did not have to release its full contents because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the authorities to withhold records if they would "endanger" public safety.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center told the high court's justices Tuesday that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's decision created a new "catchall provision that can be used in any case involving records related to domestic and national security programs." (PDF)
The privacy group had demanded the documents from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest. The Department of Homeland Security refused to divulge the documents associated with SOP 303, which the appeals court described as a "unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices."
The telecoms have agreed to shutter service when SOP 303 is invoked, but there are no publicly disclosed instances of the measure ever being invoked.
With everything else that we are now watching unfold across America we should keep our eyes on this case. Will the Supreme Court force the government to disclose their 'kill switch' program to the public? While we feel that such a disclosure is highly unlikely knowing this government's track record, we're happy that this is seeing the light of day from such outlets as Infowars and Fox News while this CNN story told us more, though of course they describe this kill switch as a 'good' thing.:
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015, according to a pledge backed by most of the mobile world's major players.
Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft, along with the five biggest cellular carriers in the United States, are among those that have signed on to a voluntary program announced Tuesday by the industry's largest trade group.
All smartphones manufactured for sale in the United States after July 2015 must have the technology, according to the program from CTIA-The Wireless Association.
Advocates say the feature would deter thieves from taking mobile devices by rendering phones useless while allowing people to protect personal information if their phone is lost or stolen. Its proponents include law enforcement officials concerned about the rising problem of smartphone theft.
In a highly related story, the Daily Mail announced today that hackers are now able to access EVERY CALL and every message that you send via smartphone. This mind boggling story tells us that hackers are able to hack smartphone users anywhere in the world. Calling it one of the biggest threats to privacy breaches that the world has ever seen, cyber criminals are able to exploit a security vulnerability to intercept, steal data and geo-track someone's location half way around the world without permission.:
Hackers are able to spy on smartphone users anywhere in the world.
Channel Nine's 60 Minutes has uncovered a security hole in modern telecommunications that enables cyber criminals to listen in on phone conversations and read text messages.
Criminals, commercial spies and suspected terrorists are allegedly exploiting the security loophole for their own benefit by accessing the system, which is being used by major Australian providers.
'Everything about our lives is contained in the palm of our hand,' reporter Ross Coulthart said.
'Your sensitive, private data is opened for anyone to see. You could be bugged, tracked and hacked from anywhere in the world. It's long been the dirty little secret of international espionage.
'What it means is that your smartphone is an open book.'