PACKET RADIO: Banning Users, the FCC Says You Can
Steve Wolf, W8IZ@W8IZ
(This text from the W8IZ packet radio bulletin
board. It's formatted to fit a 80 character screen.)
The following is taken from a Newsline:
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The following is a QST
A new interpretation of an old FCC rule may force repeater
licensees to evict unwanted users.
FCC SAYS REPEATER TRUSTEES CAN BAN USERS!
The Federal Communications Commission has told the attorney
for a southern California radio club that the license holder to
its repeater can kick any ham off the system that he deems unfit
to use the machine. In doing so, the FCC seems have set the
stage for a total re-evaluation of the way every repeater in the
nation is operated.
The issue of what rights a repeater licensee has over the
control of his repeater came into sharp focus on February the
1st. This, in a letter of interpretation of Section 97.205,
subpart E of the FCC Amateur Service rules. Section 97.205 E
says in part -- and we quote -- "Limiting the use of a repeater
to only certain user stations is permissible." That language has
been on the books for years. Some repeater licensees are
probably not aware the rule exists, much less understand the
power it gives them. Moreover, until now the FCC has given
repeater licensees wide latitude in its interpretation.
But a far narrower reading has now come as the result of a
request for clarification sought by Attorney Sidney Radus, N6OMS
of Orange, California. Radus is the attorney representing the
Claremont Amateur Repeater Association in its fight against some
unwanted users of its repeaters.
In preparation of a civil complaint against one user, Radus
wrote to the FCC's Private Radio Bureau to find out exactly
where his client stood in regard to Part 97.205 E. His inquiry
was answered by Personal Radio Branch Chief John B. Johnston
W3BE. Johnston is well versed in Part 97 regulatory matters in
that he was the guiding hand that crafted the latest version.
After quoting section 97.205 E, Johnston added the rule applies
whether a repeater is coordinated as an "open" or "closed"
repeater. In fact, Johnston says -- and again we quote -- " Rule
97.205 E without qualification, permits the individual
responsible for proper operation of a repeater to limit the use
of a repeater to certain user stations." -- end quote.
As previously reported, the legal action taken was to obtain a
restraining order against Tim W. Seawolf of Quail Valley,
California. Its now been learned that the Johnston letter was
accepted by the civil court as evidence in the case. We will be
covering that part of the story in greater detail next week.
But looked at on a much broader scale, this new interpretation
of Section 97.205 E is the really important story. This, because
it holds the potential of impacting on the way that every ham who
uses a repeater to make contacts operates on the air. The FCC
now seems to be saying that in effect, there is really no
difference between an open or closed repeater. Rather that all
repeaters are essentially closed and that the ability of anyone
of us to operate through one is at the will and the whim of the
person that holds the license to a given machine. In fact,
Johnston letter goes even further than that. It just about
mandates that repeater licensees act to ban anyone who
in any way may cause the repeaters operation to violate any FCC
part 97 rule.
This is truly a precedent setting regulatory interpretation by
the FCC. Its one that will forever change the way in which all
repeaters are operated and the way in which a repeater licensee
is required to police his systems and control his user base.
TEXT OF FCC LET
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
WASHINGTON D.C. 20554
Feb. 1, 1994
In Reply Refer To: 7230-A/1700C1
Mr. Sidney L. Radus
Orange, CA 92669
Dear Mr. Radus,
This is in response to your fax dated January 14, 1994 in
which you request further response to your previous
correspondence. Specifically, you request whether Section
97.205(e) permits owners of "open" repeaters to limit the use of
their repeaters to certain users.
Section 97.205(e) states: '... Limiting the use of a repeater
to only certain user stations is permissible.' The rule section
applies whether a repeater is coordinated as an "open" or
Further, the rule applies without regard as to whether a
repeater is coordinated at all. Rule 97.205(e), without
qualification, permits the individual responsible for proper
operation of a repeater to limit the use of a repeater to
certain user stations.
I trust this is responsive to your concerns.
John B. Johnston
Chief, Personal Radio Branch
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