Proposed Rule Change on Airplane Cell-Phone Ban Provokes Backlash

A passenger uses his mobile phone before a check-in counter of Italian airline Alitalia at Narita International Airport, in suburban Tokyo on April 19, 2010. European countries' ban on flights in its airspace has been extended due to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland which remains in place.
National Journal
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Laura Ryan
Nov. 22, 2013, 8:25 a.m.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion’s pro­pos­al to lift re­stric­tions on cel­lu­lar devices dur­ing flights has been met with pub­lic out­cry, re­ports The Wash­ing­ton Post.

The FCC an­nounced Thursday that it is con­sid­er­ing rules that would lift the ban on cel­lu­lar devices at 10,000 feet, but keep cur­rent re­stric­tions dur­ing takeoff and land­ing. If the change takes ef­fect, in­di­vidu­al air­lines would be able to de­cide wheth­er or not to im­ple­ment it.

After FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er re­leased a state­ment on the pro­spect­ive rule change, a pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing the pro­pos­al went up on the White House web­site and the FCC was in­und­ated with angry let­ters.

“Dur­ing flights, pas­sen­gers are forced in­to a re­stric­ted space, of­ten for long peri­ods of time. For­cing them to listen to the in­ane, loud, private, per­son­al con­ver­sa­tions of a stranger is per­haps the worst idea the FCC has come up with to date,” the White House pe­ti­tion said. “Just be­cause we CAN use our phones at 30,000 feet doesn’t mean that we SHOULD be able to.”

The agency will con­sider the rule change at its next open meet­ing sched­uled for Dec. 12. A ma­jor­ity vote of the com­mis­sion­ers is needed to ad­opt the pro­pos­al.


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