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FCC Warns About Using Radio Services to Coordinate Illegal Activity

Exterior of the FCC building in Washington, D.C.
(Image credit: FCC)

Citing discussions on social media of using alternatives to social media platforms for "coordinating future activities," the FCC Sunday (Jan. 17) warned about using any of those communications alternatives to commit or facilitate any criminal acts.

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The warning came from the Enforcement Bureau in advance of Wednesday's Inauguration of Joe Biden as president and chatter about violence nationwide by Donald Trump supporters.

Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to lock accounts or de-platform sites, including notably President Trump's accounts and conservative social media platform Parler.

The bureau said the warning was aimed at amateur radio service users as well as personal radio service licensees, which include CB radios, walkie-talkies, and General Mobile Radio Services. It said that anyone using those “in connection with any activity which is against Federal, State or local law" could be subject to "significant" fines, seizure of equipment and possible criminal prosecution.

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The bureau said it recognized that the services can be used for speech protected by the First Amendment, but not to facilitate crimes.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.