Amanda Ripley

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Cell Phones as Life Preservers

2nd Feb 2009 posted in Resilience

Before we give police the authority to block cell signals, we should talk to the people whose lives were saved because of cell signals.

In the Mumbai terrorist attacks, people used text messages and phone calls to communicate.

On 9/11, phones in the hands of regular people saved the Capitol or the White House from destruction. On Flight 93, passengers used cell phones and airphones to learn that other planes had hit the Trade Center. Had they not had this information, they may never have rushed the cockpit.

According to the 9-11 Commission Report:

“These calls between family, friends, and colleagues took place until the end of the flight and provided those on the ground with firsthand accounts. They enabled the passengers to gain critical information, including the news that two aircraft had slammed into the World Trade Center…At least ten passengers and two crew members shared vital information with family, friends, colleagues, or others on the ground….According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane. They decided, and acted. At 9:57, the passenger assault began.”

Congress should remember these phone calls when considering whether to ban them.