Monday, July 11, 2005

Cell Phone Links Disabled In NYC Tunnels

In a move obviously aimed at preventing remote-controlled bombs from being detonated via cell phone, as they were in the London and Madrid Bombings, New York City has disabled cell phone links in all commuter tunnels:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cellular phone service has been shut off in four busy New York commuter tunnels since last week's deadly blasts in London, officials said on Monday.
No specific reason was given for the move but cell phones have been used to trigger bombs in the past.
Cell phone service is disabled in the Holland and Lincoln tunnels that connect Manhattan to New Jersey under the Hudson River, the Midtown Tunnel to the city's Queens borough and the Battery Tunnel to Brooklyn, officials said.

The move came immediately after the bombings in London on Thursday, said a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees operation of the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.
In March 2004 bombs in Madrid that killed 191 people on trains were fitted to mobile phones, using the alarms as timers. Police in London have said they believe the subway bombs there were detonated by timers.

"Following the bombings in London, as a security precaution, the Port Authority required that cell phone service be suspended inside the Lincoln and Holland tunnels," said Tony Ciavolella, a Port Authority spokesman. "This was an initiative we put into place for the safety and security of the public."

The service will be disabled until further notice, Ciavolella said.

"There's lots of different ways to use the cell phone as a trigger device," said Ken Dulaney, a wireless analyst for technology market research firm Gartner Inc.

But he added: "If you stop a cell phone, there are myriad other ways to trigger bombs."

Interesting. I wonder if they are simply disabling cell towers within the tunnels, or if they are using some sort of scrambling technology that could also be used in buildings. If so, it may be the wave of the future, that you won't be able to use your cell phone within a public building.

But, as noted, there are other ways to detonate bombs remotely.