FCC warns against using radios for criminal purposes

Wednesday, 20 January, 2021

FCC warns against using radios for criminal purposes

The Enforcement Bureau of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an official Enforcement Advisory warning against the use of radio devices or services for committing or facilitating criminal activities.

The advisory — no doubt inspired by the current civil unrest in the US — is aimed at those who hold amateur radio licences, as well as licensees and operators of personal radio services.

The Bureau said that it “has become aware of discussions on social media platforms suggesting that certain radio services regulated by the Commission may be an alternative to social media platforms for groups to communicate and coordinate future activities”.

“The Bureau recognises that these services can be used for a wide range of permitted purposes, including speech that is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Amateur and personal radio services, however, may not be used to commit or facilitate crimes.”

Specifically, the advisory points out to amateur licensees that they are prohibited from transmitting “communications intended to facilitate a criminal act” or “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning”.

Similarly, individuals operating radios in the personal radio services, a category that includes CB, walkie-talkies and General Mobile Radio Service, are prohibited from using those radios “in connection with any activity which is against Federal, State or local law.”

Anyone caught using such radio services in this manner “may be subject to severe penalties, including significant fines, seizure of the offending equipment, and, in some cases, criminal prosecution”.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Elnur

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