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Ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reminding licensees and operators that using radios to commit or facilitate criminal acts is strictly prohibited.
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The agency reminded licensees and operators in Personal Radio Services and the Amateur Radio Service that they are specifically prohibited from transmitting “communications intended to facilitate a criminal act” or “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning."
Personal Radio Services refer to radio communications that use devices such as walkie-talkies. Amateur Radio Service is available to non-commercial users who obtain a license, generally granting them the right to use higher-powered equipment with a broader signal range than personal devices like walkie-talkies.
The agency issued the strict reminder after becoming aware of discussions on social media platforms suggesting that some FCC-regulated radio services may be used as an alternative to social media "for groups to communicate and coordinate future activities."
'LEAVE YOUR DRONE AT HOME' DURING BIDEN INAUGURATION, FAA SAYS
Social media giants began suspending accounts that they say have "the potential to lead to offline harm" following the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Mainstream social media platforms also silenced President Trump’s accounts over comments that seemed to incite the violent insurrection.
"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," the FCC wrote. "Amateur and Personal Radio Services, however, may not be used to commit or facilitate crimes."
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Using Citizens Band radios, Family Radio Service walkie-talkies, and General Mobile Radio Service “in connection with any activity which is against federal, state or local law" are also prohibited.
Individuals who don't comply are subject to severe penalties, including significant fines, seizure of the offending equipment and possible criminal prosecution, the FCC said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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