A collection of online rights groups have urged the US government to ban deliberate mobile network shutdowns.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy in Technology and Public Knowledge jointly filed a comment with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting that the commission forbid both federal and state government agencies from shutting down mobile networks as a means of disrupting citizen communications.
The filing stems from an incident which occurred last year in downtown San Francisco.
Confronted with escalating tension over protests, police ordered that all mobile networks in and around the city's BART train stations be shut down in order to prevent protestors from sending SMS messages.
The shutdown provoked an outcry from civil rights groups and put local authorities in the crosshairs of hacktivist group Anonymous.
The new complaint argues such shutdowns are draconian measures reminiscent of the communication blackouts imposed by governments in Syria and Egypt.
The groups also argued that such bans pose safety hazards, preventing citizens from contacting emergency services.
"It’s clear that a shutdown of communications is antithetical to the laws this country is built on," the groups told the FCC.
"In our petition, we detail several situations - from countries like Egypt to Panama to Syria - of foreign governments using its power to shutdown communications services in a variety of situations."
The letter asks the FCC to impose tighter constraints to be placed on how service interruptions can be carried out, requiring a court order to cut service and strict limits on the duration which such outages can last.
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