FCC complaint filed on BART cell phone service shut-off and today's the last day to comment

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Police outside a BART protest Sept. 8, 2011
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MIRISSA NEFF

Back in August, in the midst of protests, BART shut off its cell phone service.

At the time, we said in an editorial that "The bizarre move by BART officials Aug. 11 to shut down cell phone service in the underground train stations made headlines around the world — and for good reason. It was, Wired Magazine reported Aug 15, apparently the first time in United States history that a public agency sought to block electronic communications as a way to prevent a political protest."

One of the BART protesters, Colin G. Gallagher, has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about BART shutting off cell phone service, and its public comment period ends today. Starting May first, there will be a limited comment period, restricted only to those represented by a lawyer or government officials, according to Gallagher. You can add your comment to the filing on the FCC website.

This is far from the first complaint on the subject filed with the FCC, and BART has since outlined a policy about cutting off cell phone service.

But it's another chance to comment on the potentially illegal action by BART that drew rage and claims that BART had violated the first amendment. Gallagher agrees, and wrote in his filing comment that communication should go "unhindered by bureaucracies, agencies, and the measures of dubious legality employed by those who would restrain or cut off access."

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