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FCC Proposes to Make Past Amateur Radio Address Information Private


[UPDATED 2015-04-17 1400 UTC] The FCC is seeking comments on a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in WT Docket 15-81 that would restrict routine public inspection of an Amateur Radio licensee’s address history. The Commission said it was taking the action in an effort to enhance the privacy of individual licensees. The change would not affect public access to a licensee’s current address information.

“To implement this change, we propose to remove from public view in the Universal Licensing System (ULS) Amateur Radio licensee address information that is not associated with a current license or pending application…,” the FCC said in the NPRM, released on March 31. “We believe that these steps will enhance Amateur Radio operators’ privacy without undermining the public interest in knowing who is authorized to operate on amateur spectrum.”

The Wireless Bureau also solicited public input on whether it should extend the same approach to individual licensees in any other radio services, such as the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), commercial radio operator licensees, and individuals who hold ship station and/or aircraft station licenses.

Current licensee address information would remain public, the Commission said.

We believe that publicly available licensee address information facilitates the Amateur Radio community’s self-regulation and maintains the distinction between the Amateur Service and other radio services,” the FCC said in the NPRM. “In recent years, the Commission has received occasional requests from amateur licensees to remove their address information from public view in ULS. These requests are not granted, because Section 0.453(d)(4) requires that the information be available for public inspection in ULS.”

The FCC noted in the NPRM that the ULS includes not only current authorizations and pending applications, but expired, canceled, or terminated licenses; archived versions of active licenses, and applications that have not been processed. “Information available on ULS includes a licensee’s name and address, and technical information about the authorization requested or granted,” the NPRM explained.

The FCC pointed out that an Amateur Radio licensee is not required to provide a home address, just a valid mailing address. “Those who are concerned about their residential address appearing in ULS may use, among other alternatives, a post office box, a business address, the address of another property the licensee owns, or the address of a friend or relative as their mailing address,” the NPRM suggested.

The FCC acknowledged that for a licensee whose residential address may already appear in ULS, this approach “offers only a partial solution,” the NPRM said, “because replacing the address on a current license does not remove the old address information from archived licenses and processed applications, and it remains publicly viewable even if the license expires or is canceled or otherwise terminated.”

Comments are due in the proceeding by June 16. Reply comments -- ie, comments on comments filed -- are due by July 16.





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