Apparantly the problem is that because it is part of the ship mesh, if you turned yours off, nobody would be able to see it. Kind of like how other games let you "hide your helmet" and then other players can't see your helmet. Basically they don't have anything built into the engine to allow you to turn off your shields and other people still be able to see them.
Actually that change isn't sync'd with other players/entities (as I recall - A heavy PvP player could confirm/deny this). You can see the effect when you Jam someones sensors (the ring and other stuff dissappears but not to everyone else who didn't get jammed). Also, the 'hide your helmet' was supposed to be shared (all it required was nulling the effect of modifying that portion of the mesh-graphical- without blocking the modification of the logical effect -statistical- ). Considering its supposed to be part of the HUD and therefore client specific, its not really a big issue for them.
Modern 3D graphics engines typically don't provide feedback from the GPU beyond a very limited capacity (or at least not always) - though it is possibly to set this up -almost always- the technical requirement make it impractical. So graphics have very little to do with the actual game logics functioning. Any effect the graphics engine has on logical function typically has to be determined 'Pre-Submittal' (to the GPU), typically in the Clipping engine (almost always done by the logical algorythim as greatly affects processing load and performance -not done in certain editing modes or with special effects that work a certain way [GPU dependant]) and possibly the render portions (depends on how there graphics engine works).
It does involve mutiple dev teams though and that takes time and makes it a bit difficult. Essentially, they need to make a 'Handle' for that specific part, register it with Game design (so they prevent it from conflicting/interacting with any other portion of the game -undesirably-) and then alter the UI to make it accessable to the User.