May 30, 2017–The FCC should seek comment in the further notice of proposed rulemaking in its contraband cellphone proceeding on the use of “surgical jamming technology,” according to the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA). In an ex parte filing in GN docket 13-111 commenting on the item adopted in March (TR Daily, March 23), Leann Bertsch, president of ASCA and director of the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, noted that state correctional administrators and others have failed to get legislation through Congress to permit states to use jamming technology. The Communications Act bars the use of jamming by non-federal government entities, the FCC has noted.
“I am writing today to ask that you amend your proposed rule to include surgical jamming technology, and to provide stringent measures to ensure carrier cooperation with beacon technology, managed access technology and future technologies,” the filing said. “While there are some risks to uncontrolled or unmonitored use of some jamming devices, those risks can easily be mitigated. Section 333 of the Federal Communications Act does not prevent the FCC from authorizing the use of jamming illegal wireless device signals. Section 333 merely prohibits the ‘willful or malicious interference to authorized radio communications.’ Since cell phones are contraband within correctional facilities, their use constitutes unauthorized communications; jamming those illegal signals could not violate Section 333. Additionally, I am hopeful that you will consider requiring that wireless carriers cooperate and participate in the development of beacon technology, as referenced in your proposed rule. It is my understanding that this technology would use software embedded in phones to provide a 100% solution, while allowing ‘whitelisting’ by correctional agencies as appropriate.
“Finally, as we have learned from multiple deployments of managed access technology, all technological solutions require meaningful carrier action and cooperation; not mere lip-service,” Ms. Bertsch stressed. “As the history of this issue demonstrates, your regulated carriers have proven largely disinterested in solving this critical public safety problem: apparently only the FCC or congressional action will compel meaningful cooperation in the wireless industry.”- Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org