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FCC to set standards for mass disruptions of Americans’ communications


Following an investigation into a public transit authority that cut off mobile phone service amid a protest earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said recently that it would attempt to outline the circumstances under which officials may legally disrupt wireless communications in the U.S.

In a release last week (PDF), FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski noted that his staff had been investigating the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) authority’s preemptive disconnection of mobile phone towers in their subway system: an action that stymied a demonstration which aimed to shut down one of the train platforms as a protest of police brutality.

A similar tactic was attempted by Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak ahead of an angry revolutionary tide that toppled his government early this year. The order to cut off the entire country’s access to the Internet and mobile networks — which was carried out by Mubarak’s corporate partners in the West — was ultimately a tipping point that drove even more people into the streets.


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