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Amateur Radio Operator Settles with DOJ, FCC for $7,000
Thursday, July 05, 2018
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FCC reached a settlement with an amateur radio operator for intentionally causing interference to other amateur radio operators’ transmissions and failing to provide station identification when transmitting. The FCC worked with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania to reach an agreement with Brian Crow arising from an FCC forfeiture order that found his behavior violated the Communications Act and the FCC’s rules.
The settlement requires Crow to pay the U.S. Treasury $7,000 — a substantial payment for an amateur operator. The initial proposed penalty in 2014 was $11,500.
“When a ‘ham radio’ operator interferes with other operators, the whole amateur radio system is threatened — potentially to the point that it could fall apart,” said Rosemary Harold, chief of the Enforcement Bureau. “Amateur radio licensees know that the rules require them to share the airwaves, which means that bad actors cannot plead ignorance. This settlement is a significant payment for an individual operator, and it sends a serious message: Play by the rules in the amateur radio band or face real consequences. We thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for understanding the importance of this type of case and pushing it forward to ensure a resolution that included strong penalties for substantial violations of the law.”
Crow operates an amateur radio station (call sign K3VR) from North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Amateur radio operators are required to hold a license from the FCC and to cooperate with each other when using amateur radio frequencies, which are shared frequencies. The commission found that Crow intentionally caused interference to other amateur radio operators and blocked others’ use of the airwaves. Crow also failed to transmit his FCC assigned call sign, which allows other amateur operators to identify the source of transmissions that occupy the amateur radio bands, as required by the commission’s rules.
He is also limited to “technician class” operating privileges for the next six months, after which — if no new violations have been found — he will again be authorized to operate with “amateur extra” operating privileges. Amateur radio license classes permit some licensees additional operating privileges, such as access to more amateur frequencies, depending on which exam they passed. Higher class access is a privilege that the FCC can curtail or even deny based on conduct by the licensee.
Harold also pointed out the work of the FCC field agents involved in this case: “I want to thank our outstanding field agents for the continued vigilance and hard work in ensuring our airwaves are used lawfully,” she said.
73 de W4DNA – Dave
ARRL North Carolina Section Traffic Manager
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