In an unprecedented move the FCC issued a weekend FCC Enforcement Advisory to Radio Users licensed and unlicensed, to not use Radios and frequencies to commit or facilitate crimes. The ARRL quickly followed with an e-mail to its membership. Both communications have left many of us amateurs scratching our heads, as we having been licensed are law abiding, why do we need to be told not to commit crimes… here are the communications from the ARRL and FCC.
ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio
For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill. Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”
Amateur Radio Operators, due to their history of public service, their training, and the requirement that they be licensed by the FCC have earned their status as a component of critical communications infrastructure and as a reliable resource “when all else fails.”
Amateur Radio is about development of communications and responsible public service. Its misuse is inconsistent with its history of service and its statutory charter. ARRL does not support its misuse for purposes inconsistent with these values and purposes.
Federal Communications Commission
45 L Street NE
Washington, DC 20554
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500
Released: January 17, 2021
WARNING: AMATEUR AND PERSONAL RADIO SERVICES LICENSEES AND
OPERATORS MAY NOT USE RADIO EQUIPMENT TO COMMIT OR FACILITATE
The Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission issues this
Enforcement Advisory to remind licensees in the Amateur Radio Service, as well as licensees
and operators in the Personal Radio Services, that the Commission prohibits the use of radios in
those services to commit or facilitate criminal acts.
The Bureau 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 recognizes 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 Bureau reminds 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.”1
Likewise, individuals operating radios in the Personal Radio
Services, a category that includes Citizens Band radios, Family Radio Service 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.”2
Individuals using radios in the Amateur or
Personal 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.3
Media inquiries should be directed to 202-418-0500 or MediaRelations@fcc.gov.
To file a complaint with the FCC, visit https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or call 1-888-CALLFCC. To report a crime, contact your local law enforcement office or the FBI.