- Full Title: Warning: Amateur and Personal Radio Services Licensees and Operators May Not Use Radio Equipment to Commit or Facilitate Criminal Acts
- Document Type(s): Public Notice
- Bureau(s): Enforcement
The FCC Enforcement Bureau issued today an advisory to remind licensees and operators in the Amateur and Personal Radio Services that they may not use radio equipment to commit or facilitate crimes.
- DA/FCC #: DA-21-73
The ARRL has posted the full text here.
To clarify: The Personal Radio Service includes the cheap blister-pack FRS radios you can buy on the end cap at Wally World, the slightly more expensive and maybe slightly higher quality GMRS radios you have to actually look for. FRS radios require no license, GMRS radios do, but its a blanket; you, as owner, buy a license and it covers all the units you own, and whoever you allow to use one.
The Amateur Radio Service is, well, amateur radio operators. You have to take a test to get the license. As such, any licensed ham KNOWS you can't use any of these devices in the commission of a crime.
So why now? Well, one might suggest that this is too little to late.
For about 10 years now you have been able to buy extremely cheap, Chicom made, handheld radios on Amazon. And when I say "extremely cheap", I mean that they cost a little more than that blister-pack pair of FRS radios.
Also, while they transmit on the frequency you program in, they signal is very "dirty", with what are technically referred to as "spurious transmissions" or "spatter." In fact, bench testing indicates that most of these Chicom units, sometimes called "Kaodungs"as a mocking form of the names of many of these. (They're Chinese. They come from the same factories, made by the same slave labor, sold with different brand names. Or aliases, take your pick)
They are also problematic because they come off the boat able to transmit on many bands which it is illegal to transmit on in the USA without the appropriate licensing. And I am not talking about amateur bands, either. No, I'm talking about bands that are reserved for commercial or government or public safety use. Bands that you can get severe fines or jail time for transmitting on.
Now, for decades it has been generally accepted that amateur radio operators will acquire radios that operate on any mode or frequency range and modify them to operate where they have operating privileges. And it is not illegal to own a radio you don't have the license to transmit on, as long as... you don't transmit.
And it is legal to use any communications means at hand if life safety is at risk. (Although there's a story about a ham who called for help on a public safety frequency, and got the help and arrested for "interfering with public safety" or some-such, so use with caution.)
ARRL has tested these "Kaodung" units, and like I said above, they have very messy, very bad signals. In fact, they probably do not meet Federal standards for use. Uncle Sam has been trying to stop the influx, to no avail.
Sometime in the last few months I heard that antifa was using these things to coordinate their mostly peaceful protests.
I almost titled this post "Too little, too late."
(See also my post "Hammy Stuff" from October 2018.)