Just about a year ago I posted a report on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) punishing an amateur radio operator (Ham) for having an on-air conversation with another party who failed to identify himself per Part 97 requirements. Per FCC regulations, every control operator in the Amateur Radio Service (with few exceptions) is required to broadcast a station identification (call sign) at least once every ten minutes during periods of communication. The named operator properly identified himself, but was prosecuted for failing to terminate an exchange with someone else who did not comply. This legal action was executed by the same government which belittles honest citizens who object to its selective enforcement policy of ignoring illegal aliens crossing our southern border.
§97.119 Station identification.
(a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station.
Anyway, an RF Cafe visitor, also a Ham, recently wrote to tell his own story of unjustified prosecution and harassment by the FCC. In his words (with permission):
"Enjoyed your article about N9RSY and the FCC Bureaucrat's letter for his talking to an operator who failed to identify his station. Is it Dan's responsibility to identify for the guy? I think not.
Below[†], please find an email to me, from the same FCC lawyer. She asked if I played a tape recording from a town where I don't live, and where I've never transmitted a signal. I informed her, "don't live there, never transmitted from there" and then I told her the law specifically allows us [Hams] to play identified recordings of other amateurs. This was in December 2012.
Never heard another word about this inquiry...... until July 2014, when an FCC engineer called it a "warning for causing interference to other amateurs" resulting in a fine of $3,500 on top of a fine for $7,000 for interference and another $1,000 for failure to identify, on March 14, 2014.... when I wasn't operating a radio station!
Then (and this is priceless) the same engineer who misrepresented the lawyer's email as a warning, issued his NAL[*] to an address not in Irwin, as seen in the "warning email" and not to my address of record, in Florida, but to my wife and kid's address in a completely different town!
Naturally, because it was sent to my address of record, I didn't receive it, and I didn't reply... but the FCC said my "previous warning for interference" justified the large forfeiture!
Brass balls, incompetence, stupidity? Anyway, I thought you'd get a kick out of it."
Brian: I received a report from the monitoring station from this weekend that indicated that a tape of VE7KFM was being played on December 9th at 1708 UTC from a fix in Irwin, PA. At 1711 UTC, the monitoring station then recorded you operating under your K3VR call sign at the same fix in Irwin, PA. Any thoughts on how we could be fixing to the exact same location for both a recording of VE7KFM and a regular communication from you?
I told Laura, I don't live in Irwin, and have never transmitted from Irwin, but even if I had, the transmission described would have been perfectly legal.
§97.113 Prohibited transmissions.
(c) No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station...
I asked for a recording; never got one. Asked for more information; never got any. But, 2 years later, this email shows up as a "warning for interference" in an NAL that was never sent out to my address of record, which was based on transmissions I never made. Oh, they "inspected" my station, if you could call it an inspection, but the inspection was HOURS after the interference they claim they heard, and the transmissions didn't contain my voice, and they didn't place me at the operating position. In other words, they never saw or heard me. Oh, and the inspection happened after they went to lunch, and came back at 1:15 PM. I wasn't around in the morning; I came home to meet my kids who were off school early that day a little after 1 PM. Talk about a SNAFU!
* NAL = Notice of Apparent Liability
I responded asking permission to post his experience, which he gave, and he also submitted the following along with many supporting official documents, obtained as the result of Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests, that included redacted reports (which look like censored, blacked-out, Top Secret reports) on employee malfeasance. To wit:
"First came the botched email from the FCC lawyer who didn't understand part 97. They tried to separate me from 110 other amateurs, out of 45,000 people in the same zip code, in 4 different towns, spread over 28 square miles, which is a physical impossibility with the FCC's DF array, which is based on a design from WW2.
Then they botched their inspection, by inspecting hours after the signals they heard, and by failing to confirm the transmitter was operational, failure to confirm any of the elements of the alleged violations, failure to confirm my presence at the control point of a radio station, etc., etc., etc.
I sent them various proofs of their mistakes via email. The FBI called the Regional Director of the FCC on my behalf, giving them exculpatory evidence, indicating the signals they heard were part of a hoax, and part of a series of hoaxes over a ten year period.
There was a transmitter and an antenna in a tree located on the property next door and numerous sources of exculpatory evidence, including neighbor reports, affidavits, 911 calls, police reports, my image on the security video at my son's school when I was 'allegedly' operating a radio at home, etc., etc., etc.,.... The FCC ignored all of it. They actually stonewalled the email(s) as if they'd never received the emails.
Then, after they failed to send the NAL to my address of record, and after I sent a complaint that they failed to send the NAL, they lied and said, "there was no reply, and based on the evidence before us, and based on the prior warning for interference, we affirm the NAL."
They totally disregarded the evidence received, including evidence from the FBI; they fabricated a "warning notice" out an unrelated email, and; they totally screwed up their inspection.
So, I complained to the FCC Office of the Inspector General (twice) and obtained all kinds of information where FCC employees were downloading and watching pornography, and other employees were staring out the windows all day, and others were selling AVON at work, and coming in late and leaving early.
To add insult to injury, the Columbia, MD HFDF employees are hired at $63,000-$97,000 per year!
The OIG[**] reports don't mention the names of the FCC employees at fault, because of their union affiliation, but after the report(s) are made, apparently no one is ever fired and it's back to business as usual.
However, the FCC has no problem libeling licensees, "issuing" NALs they don't send to the licensee's address of record, using mere inquiry emails about perfectly legal communications as "warnings for interference," requiring outlandish payments for made up offenses, and on and on it goes.
Congress is furious at the FCC about their lack of fairness, openness, lack of predictability, failure to follow their own rules and processes, and etc., but they're just putting a band-aid on a bleeding, open, wound.
Oh, and I was supposedly interfering with a guy who calls on al Qaeda to murder Americans (VE7KFM) and a self-confessed child rapist and convicted drug felon (N4TAT).
Kirt, the abuse of the American citizen at the hands of these incompetents is just mind boggling!"
** OIG = Office of the Inspector General
Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence under the law? Look at the amount of trouble this poor fellow was put to in order to clear his name based on the actions of somebody else. It was clearly left to him to either submit to the punishment and thereby tacitly admit guilt, or to spend his valuable time and money to fight the accusation.
I will reiterate my former statement that I indeed consider the FCC a legitimate function of the government that is necessary to ensure efficient and fair use of available radio spectrum, but as usual it is the few self-serving employees who choose to exercise their bureaucratic powers to mercilessly harass citizens that give the institution a bad name. The unfortunate reality is that as time goes by, the government cares less and less about what the public thinks of it. I offer the U.S. Congress and presidency as prima facie examples.
Posted on May 28, 2015