Senate Bill 380, a bill to prevent wireless communication services from being shut down, has been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.
SB 380 will require a court order before wireless communications can be shut down. The bill will become effective on Jan. 1, 2014.
According to the bill’s author, Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), the bill is a necessary update to already existing laws.
"For decades, this requirement has been in place to protect traditional landline telephone service from arbitrary shutdown, now it will be in place for modern wireless communications as well," Padilla said in a statement.
SB 380 was authored in response to the Bay Area Rapid Transit Agency (BART) shutdown of mobile services for three hours during public protests in Aug. 2011. Padilla originally proposed the bill last year, then referred to as SB 1160, but was vetoed by the governor.
Legislators added to the new version the governor’s suggested changes, to allow diversions and cuts to telephone services during hostage or barricade situations and to simplify the process for law enforcement to obtain the court order.
Several organizations have declared their official support for the new law, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Northern California, AT&T, California Cable and Telecommunications Association (CCTA), California Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association, California Communications Association, California Newspaper Publishers Association, California’s Independent Telecommunications Companies, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and TechNet.
In the Senate Floor Analysis of SB 380, the CCTA released a statement declaring their support for the bill, citing its balance of the needs of law enforcement with the rights of the public.
"Notwithstanding your concern and others regarding free speech, the bill addresses the legitimate concerns for public safety by providing for the disruption of communications service without a court order if the governmental entity reasonably determines that an extreme emergency exists and also recognizes the need for communications providers to be able to manage their systems," the CCTA statement read.
However, the bill is not without opposition. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy, League of California Cities, Los Angeles Police Protective League and the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association are officially listed as opposing SB 380 in the Senate Floor Analysis.