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A San Francisco man checks his phone at a BART station on Friday, a day after the subway operators turned off mobile phone coverage to stifle a planned protest. Noah Berger/AP

Anonymous hacks San Francisco subway site over mobile network closure

Authorities disabled the mobile phone coverage inside the city’s underground system to try and counter a series of protests.

THE HACKTIVIST GROUP Anonymous has defaced the website of San Francisco’s subway train system, protesting against its decision to shut down the mobile phone service there last week.

Demonstrators had planned to hold a protest on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system on Thursday evening over the fatal shooting of a man on a train on July 3. Having suspected that the man was a terrorist threat, officers later found the man to have been unarmed.

BART officials decided to block mobile phone coverage into the subway system from mid-afternoon on Thursday, however, making it impossible for the demonstrators to spread the word about their protest – ultimately calling the protest to be abandoned altogether.

While BART defended its move, saying a civil disturbance woudl have caused “platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators”, it faced accusations of stifling its passengers’ constitutional rights to freedom of speech.

Anonymous last night defaced the website – which has since been taken offline – and published thousands of personal details garnered from its servers, as an apparent revenge attack for Thursday’s shutdown.

“We are Anonymous, we are your citizens, we are the people, we do not tolerate oppression from any government agency,” BBC News quotes a statement posted to the myBART page.

“BART has proved multiple times that they have no problem exploiting and abusing the people.”

A BART statement said there was no financial data stored on the site, but recommended that myBART customers who use the same usernames and passwords on other sites to change them. It also acknowledged that more protests were possible.

Anonymous is to hold a physical demonstration over the cut to the mobile phone network later today.

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