Did ABC block cellphone service during its Taylor Swift concert?

We don't know who blocked cellphone service, but someone did. 

Mar 1, 2020, 6:04 pm*

Tech

 

Kevin Collier

Cellphone service from at least AT&T and T-Mobile was mysteriously blocked in the vicinity of Taylor Swift’s Good Morning America performance in Times Square, according to expert analysis shared with the Daily Dot. The question is: Who blocked it?

It’s an odd phenomenon, and the story has multiple holes. But one thing’s certain: Several CryptoPhones, regarded as one of the most sophisticated devices for tracking phone interference, found unmistakable evidence that someone was blocking all phone signals near Swift’s Good Morning America concert in Times Square on Thursday.


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That’s according to Aaron Turner, CEO of mobile security company IntegriCell, which sells the CryptoPhone. Turner has a habit of monitoring his CryptoPhones wherever he goes, and he in New York City on Thursday for a speaking engagement. Part of his device’s defensive security is offense: It actively searches out attempts to interfere with a signal. Walking through Times Square, he noticed his regular smartphone didn’t have a signal. He fired up one of his CryptoPhones, which uses the AT&T network, and saw the signal was jammed. He pulled out his other, connected to T-Mobile, and saw the same thing.

“As I stopped on one of the corners, the whole area of Times Square had both voice as well as data elimination,” he told the Daily Dot. “Basically, a huge jammer. I saw this across three different devices and two different networks. Someone was manipulating the baseband to shut down the communications.”

Problem is, it may be impossible to tell who was responsible.

“I began to wonder, is this part of Taylor Swift’s security detail, who’s trying to lock stuff?” he asked. “Is this ABC, Good Morning America trying to manipulate this for quietness?” 

ABC did not respond to request for comment in time for this story, nor did the New York Police Department.

“Jammers are illegal, unless you are an authorized federal user,” Neil Grace, Senior Communications Advisor at the Federal Communications Commission, told the Daily Dot. One AT&T employee who specializes in company legal policy but asked to remain anonymous told the Daily Dot that he “hadn’t heard of anything like that.” 

Both AT&T and T-Mobile ignored our requests for a formal statement on whether it knew of any T-Swift involvement.

Turner returned to Times Square a few hours later, but only a blank space remained: Both Swift and the jamming signal were gone.

Photo via WEZL Charleston’s Best Country/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Oct 31, 2014, 5:03 pm