These days, not being on the right
side of a government enforcement agency can cost your your life, liberty, and/or
pursuit of happiness - just ask about it from politically antipolar citizens who
have been descended upon physically by armed commando teams or financially crippled
by the IRS or EPA. The meaning of law is nowadays declared to be whatever the bureaucrat
involved thinks it should be, and nobody dares to challenge it. Amateur radio operator
Daniel G. Churovich, N9RSY, of Ripley, Tennessee, recently learned how failing to
comply with one FCC lawyer's interpretation of
Section 97.111(a)(1) - see
letter below - can result in a scary contact from
The Man. The
ARRL website has a news piece telling how FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
Special Counsel Laura Smith issued a
warning letter to the fellow for communicating with another radio operator who
failed to provide proper identification per Part 97. It was not Mr. Churovich who
failed to comply; it was the guy on the other end of the transmission.
The ARRL has a long history of being a self-policing organization, and its members
routinely conduct violations monitoring activities for quelling pirate (illegal)
broadcast stations, unintentional radiation (interference) sources, unqualified
operators making calls (often kids or relatives horsing around on someone's gear),
malicious interference, etc. The
Amateur Auxiliary of the FCC is the official title of the volunteers. From the
Q. What is the Amateur Auxiliary?
A. The Amateur Auxiliary is composed of approximately 700 ARRL volunteer-appointees,
known as Official Observers (OO) and the License Interference Committee (LIC) who
monitor the bands and notify Amateur Radio Operators of technical and operating
OOs are helpers and advisors, not "band cops."
[emphasis added] In cases involving serious rule violations,
such as malicious interference, they are trained and certified to gather and forward
evidence that can be used by the FCC in enforcement actions. The program is based
on a formal agreement between the FCC and the ARRL.
LICs, appointed by their ARRL Section Managers, address local
Administratively pinging an otherwise seemingly legitimate operator for failing
to terminate a correspondence to another operator who is not properly identifying
his call sign seems to be a bit ridiculous, if not overstepping the authority of
The attorney's letter states that Mr. Churovich realized the other operator was
not complying with Part 97 rule as evidenced by his repeatedly asking for station
identification, so it might be reasonable to agree that the conversation should
be ended, but the issuance of an official warning seems excessive, especially upon
witnessing how quickly he has become famous in a negative way (do a Google search).
After a lifetime of anonymity, his 15 minutes of fame comes in this way. I apologize
to Mr. Churovich for adding to the dilemma with this article.
From the FCC website:
CERTIFIED MAIL - RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
March 31, 2014
Mr. Daniel G. Churovich
Ripley, TN 38063
Re: WARNING NOTICE
Amateur Radio License N9RSY
Dear Mr. Churovich:
On Friday, March 28, 2014, you were heard by staff at the Commission's High Frequency
Direction Finding (HFDF) Center communicating repeatedly on 14.313 MHz with an individual
who you identify only as "cowboy." This individual failed to provide his call sign
during your conversation, a fact that you were aware of as you repeatedly demanded
that he provide his name, call sign and location. Despite being aware of the rule
violation on the part of this other individual, you continued communicating with
him for an extended period of time.^
This incident constitutes unauthorized transmissions in violation of the Commission's
rules. Your operation as described above is contrary to the basis and purpose of
the amateur radio service as set out in Section 97.1 and is a violation of Section
97.111(a)(1) of the Commission's rules, which states in pertinent part "[a]n amateur
station may transmit the following types of two-way communications: [t]ransmissions
necessary to exchange messages with other stations in the amateur service . . .
".^ There is no evidence that the individual with whom you were communicating with
on March 28^th was an amateur radio operator as he failed to provide his call sign
as required by Commission rules. Please be advised that the Commission expects you
to abide by its rules This letter serves as notice that, if operation of this type
reoccurs after receipt of this letter, you could be subject to severe penalties,
including license revocation, monetary forfeiture (fines),^ or a modification proceeding
to restrict the frequencies upon which you may operate.
Laura L. Smith, Esq.
Cc: Atlanta Field Office
South Central Regional Director
^ The Commission
employee used direction finding equipment and confirmed the transmissions were coming
from your location. The employee recorded the offending transmissions, and provided
undersigned counsel with recordings of the incident in question. Should you desire
a copy of the recording, one will be made available to you.
^ See 47 C.F.R.
SS 97.1 and 111(a)(1).
^ Fines normally range from $7,500 to $10,000.
Here is the takeaway lesson: The government is now monitoring every aspect of
communications, be it in the form of written, spoken, digital,
smoke signal messaging.
In order to steer clear of violations, be sure to familiarize yourself with not
just the letter of the law, but the whims of bureaucrats within the applicable controlling
agency. Otherwise, you might find yourself in deep doodoo. I suppose I will have
to be watching over my own shoulder from now on since I have dared to publically
criticize the 'New' FCC*.
* For the record, I actually appreciate and deem necessary the work done by most
of the Federal regulating agencies like the FCC, FAA, DOT, etc.; it is the manipulations
and perversions of some in leadership positions (mostly political appointments)
that often infuriate me.
FCC Bureaucratic Strong-Arming for another example.
Posted June 5, 2014