SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — With the flip of a few switches, the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency shut off wireless and cellphone service last week to thwart a potential protest, igniting a raging debate nationwide over free speech rights.

But while groups like the American Civil Liberties Union contended that BART went too far, a KPIX-TV CBS 5 poll released Monday night found that a majority of the public in the San Francisco Bay Area backed the transit agency’s decision and rejected the arguments of free speech advocates.

The poll of Bay Area residents found 58 percent thought BART did the right thing, 62 percent did not believe anyone’s rights were violated and 52 percent said no one was put in danger by the decision to briefly shut off access to cellphone signals and WiFi service in several underground San Francisco train stations.

BART’s actions have prompted a Federal Communications Commission investigation, threats of a lawsuit by the ACLU and a hacking group attack on the agency’s website that resulted in personal information of more than 2,000 passengers being posted online.

>> Download Complete CBS 5 Poll Results (.pdf)

The group, which referred to itself in web postings as “Anonymous,” also disrupted BART’s evening commute Monday by organizing protests at four San Francisco stations.

The CBS 5 poll of 700 Bay Area adults in the four-county region serviced by BART (San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa) had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6%. It was conducted on Monday by the polling firm SurveyUSA.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

Comments (26)
  1. Rob Chapman says:

    I’ll say the same thing I said other sites. The ACLU has no case. Using a cell phone is NOT a right, it’s a privilege. NO RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The only thing is, most of those who were polled really don’t care that much anyway. They were just going to work, not trying to make their country a better place. Those polled who would give their life to defend the rights of man really, really care.

    A privildege? Really? Use of the technology that people like me and these protestors develop and maintain is a priviledge? I think collecting the money for use of that technology as compensation for “ownership” of that technology as a consequence of their greed and their inherited position in society is a priviledge. I guess using your voice or a pen and ink are priviledges as well? You don’t own the company that made the pen, or the laptop you posted that comment with, do you?

    1. Male Member says:

      Bring satellite phones the next time you and your spoiled-brat friends want some attention …

    2. tired of stupid protesters says:

      you sir/madam need to learn what your rights truly are. yes we have rights in this country but there are limits to those rights. we do not have free reign to do whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want. just a few years ago, bart didn’t even have cell service at their stations. they chose to put it in and they can shut it down whenever they want. they can take it away completely if they want and it would not be a violation of our rights. you say the people polled don’t care. how do you know? i think you only say that because they don’t agree with you. disrupting service for commuters certainly isn’t going to garner any support for you or the protesters. a lot of people depend on bart to get to and from work and you’re just hurting them when you force stations to shut down. that’s quite selfish actually. if you want to protest, do it at the street level entrances or, as someone else suggested, bart headquarters.

    3. Zak says:

      On the surface, I can understand some of the things Anonymous stands/fights for. As one who has years of Civil Rights expertise & has assisted the ACLU on cases, in this instance, the ACLU has no case. As one poster just noted, if an entity wishes to provide a service, a service which is NOT mandated by statute, they may remove that service without any repercussions. It’s no different how many theaters are now placing wire meshing under the wall paper of the theater to block cell service for those who attempt to text or make calls during a moving. It is a provided service, you are not paying for. Secondly, while you question the poll results and have an opinion about those polled don’t care, to make your case, you need to show your poll which supports your position. Otherwords, you’re simply speculating. As I stated earlier, I can understand some of the causes taken on by these groups, but once hackers post the private information of 2000 people, then you loose my support. I guess it’s okay to expose people to identity theft, expose those who may have restraining order against an abusive spouse who doesn’t know where their X lives and so forth. The humorous part about this is these hackers think no one can find them. Well, go visit OES or the FBI Office in San Francisco, I go there regularly, and they’ve been monitoring these groups all the time. As we’ve seen recently, they simply just wait a year to gather so much information there is no way for the hackers to prevail when their arrested and end up in court. It is often believe that only hackers can do this stuff. Well, you should meet those I know who hack for the law enforcement agencies & government agencies, there are just as good and often much better. The part that gets me is why do protesters wear masks? If you’re going to fight the cause, then grow a spine and fight the cause. That’s like Martin Luther King wearing a mask during the Alabama march. He faced getting shot, and yet, he made his presence known. These folks today simply cover their masks so they won’t get caught. In other words, fear and lack of a back bone.

    4. KMA anonymous says:

      Rob, you are 100% right. Using a cell phone is a PRIVILEGE, not a right.The protesters are being paid to protest ANYTHING. They are sheep that do what they’re told, without thought, and would protest little puppies is told to by their brain-dean insane masters.
      You had NOTHING to do with the development of anything,anonymous,except being a better child molester. Just because you’re IMPOTENT doesn’t mean you have to take your crybaby attitude out on normal people.
      The only thing you and those pole smokers maintain is your insanity. If you don’t like the cell phones making money, tell your mommy to stop paying your bill. Maybe if you and those other morons could grow up, be adult, sober up and get jobs you’d understand what those hard working human beings that you hate so much are saying.
      BTW, hill got what he DESERVED. So did grant. The BART police ROCK! I can’t wait until they put down another rabid dog.

    5. anonymous is a child molester says:

      They were GOING HOME from their jobs @sshole! And YES, it IS a privilege. Not one of the terrorist would give anything to anyone. They just want attention because they are too mentally and physically IMPOTENT to do anything. When, or if, you ever sober up, you’ll see just how INSANE your rantings are.

  3. kdrewnowski says:

    hmm, if you want to use your cell phone, just leave the train station

    the public doesn’t support the protesters, because the protesters are attacking the public. If you must protest, go to the Bart offices, when you protest in Bart, at rush hour, and try to stop the trains, the only people you hurt are the commuters, you cant get the public on your side by harming the public.

    1. Gabriel says:

      Because waiting for an extra 30-45 minutes is REALLY Hurting them. Well I guess someone should tell all those starving and dieing african children not to feel TOO bad because commuters on Monday were hurting just like them.

      1. DRE says:

        Really, Gabriel?! Starving, dying children in Africa? Thanks for a completely unrelated reference. Nobody is claiming to be physically hurt. It’s a figurative statement that is clearly beyond your comprehension. It clearly never occurred to you that people who work evenings being delayed 30-45 minutes could lose their jobs as a result of being late. The point is that Anonymous’ attack only attacks riders, not BART and will do nothing to help their pointless cause. BART owns the cellular & WiFi equipment in their stations and can disable it if they so choose. They only provide it as a convenience for passengers and whiny protesters with entitlement issues.

      2. gabby lsleeps with karl rove says:

        What do starving kids in Africa have to do with the hardworking, taxpaying,law-abiding commuters? NOTHING! The protesters were supposed to be protesting the GREAT BART police ridding the world of a piece of trash. But now, it’s about all this other nonsense.This just proves that all you inbred, insane protesters should be put down like hill and that thug grant.
        I don’t care AT ALL about some kids in Africa. I care about MY CHILDREN and the fact that they had to wait over a hour for me to pick them up.
        Just because you are mad that your mommy had sex with 30 illegal aliens for money and one of them is your daddy, doesn’t mean you have to take it out on people that WORK FOR A LIVING!
        Because of YOU, my friends and I went out and bought Mace and stun guns to use on you the next time you try and stop me from picking up my kids.

  4. anonymize-your-idiocy says:

    3am? Anonymous needs to get a job. With a commute on BART.

  5. Nicholas says:

    +1 on kdrewnoski’s sensible post

  6. Male Member says:

    No was was stopped from using their cellphone. BART simply chose not to facilitate their usage to disrupt the operation of service. Kinda like turning off the power to the third rail for a period of time to clear the tracks …

    Anonymous need to realize that while people have the right to own tehcnologies, up to and including deadly weapons according to our Bill of Rights, the DO NOT have the right to use such technologies to harm other people …

  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t represent the group. I just prefer to remain anonymous.

    What I meant was that I don’t believe the average person boarding those trains has the time or will to really consider what has happened during this first protest attempt, why the protest was held where it was, and why the response was inappropriate and unethical. We the People own the airways. Look it up. When our rights are threatened, and our conscience does not allow us to use violence, our recourse is limited. Our reaction must be effective and ethical for there to be a hope of securing our rights. Majorities do not have the right to vote away a minority’s freedom to speak, assemble, organize protests, form unions, or to otherwise subvert that minority’s effort to express its political will. If I am a member of a minority that is somehow robbed of the rights endowed to me by my creator, I will resist until those rights are restored. Removing means of communication is removing means of resistance and political expression. This cannot become a precedent in America as it is in Russia, China, Israel, the Middle-East, the United Kingdom, and the list goes on. Not here. The rights of the average person to negotiate with Corporations and the Government have been eroded far enough away. The line must be drawn for liberty, democracy, and our Bill of Rights to survive.

    1. anonymous is a pole smoker says:

      And yet you try and force your INSANE beliefs on normal people. BART has every right to shut down terrorists like you any time they want. You don’t like it, then get a job and start paying for the services you hate some much. You like all those protesters are COWARDS. That’s why you try and remain anonymous. Just like your father did to your mother.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Protests are typically arranged for maximum visibility, headlines, or perhaps at the scene of an previous event related to the protest. All who coordinate these protests should certainly seek to act in the public’s interest and to to promote the general welfare above all. They should certainly never attack the public. It seems as though the protestors believed that by impeding commuters they would get headlines and hit BART in the pocketbook. They probably didn’t consider the inevitable public backlash. The second protest, in my opinion, should have been held in the same terminals as the first just to demonstrate that if that is where the people choose to assemble, then the authorities may seek to preserve the rights of other commuters during such a protest, but they may under no means do so not with a blanket communications blackout. This is a road we cannot go down.

  9. sara sammie says:

    Maximum Visibility… yeah on top of a flipping train, or on the tract….. while your down there, touch the 3rd rail please…. by ticking off the good hard working people trying to come and go…. people trying to leave to pick up their kids, tend to sick ones….. those protesters hinder the good people trying to live…. just because you dont have a life and want to run around commitng crimes, and acting a fool, thats on you… go to BART headquarters, protest there…… not at the stations….. you are not…. NOT NOT NOT making a good case for yourself… and for me.. EXCELLENT JOB BART…. you stopped potential MOBS/RIOTS, and criminals…… i say leave the towers off…. or, just like Starbucks, you need to pay for the service…..

  10. Fatkid27 says:

    They do the same thing in China so it’s not surprising the the social left would embrace this.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I agree. Everyone has a right to tend to their personal lives without impediment so long as they respect the rights of others. I personally believe pitting this protest against the general public is both wrong and self-defeating. I don’t think that’s why the hacker group got involved though. I beleive that they share the same concerns I and millions of others around the world have; that to control communication is to constrict what Dr.Herbert Simon called the “bounds of our rationality”. We cannot have a government by and for the people if all political groups do not have the most complete information available to them possible, if they are not free to communicate ideas amongst themselves and to the public, or if their ability to organize their groups political message or activities are impeded.

    And just for public information, BART is not a private company. Who exactly do you think owns those cell towers? Last year, $166 million in CA state sales tax went to BART along with over $80 million in federal dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Take a look if you don’t believe me.

  12. Joe says:

    Annoyingmous – get a life!