The FCC is poised to remove the technical ban on using cell phones during flight.

This is, as the article points out (see quote below), what the FCC does: it regulates technical communication issues. It does not regulate courtesy.

So, what should we think when one commissioner says this:

Our mandate from Congress is to oversee how networks function. Technology has produced a new network reality recognized by governments and airlines around the world. Our responsibility is to recognize that new reality’s impact on our old rules.”

For over 20 years, the FCC banned the use of mobile devices on airplanes because of their potential to interfere with networks on the ground below. But Wheeler, reasoned that, “If the basis for the rule is no longer valid, then the rule is no longer valid.”

While another commissioner says this:

Still, not every FCC commissioner is convinced that changing the rules is the right course of action. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, and Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican, dissented. Rosenworcel argued that the thought of allowing people to talk on their phones while they are in flight has so outraged not only passengers, but also flight crews, that she feared approving such a measure would cause safety issues.

Keep in mind, the FCC does not regulate safety issues that are not technical issues. I don’t think being outraged at your row-mate is a technical issue.

This is government – they don’t even know what their job is*. The horrifying thing is that their job results in controlling other people’s lives.

-JD Cross

* You can (correctly) argue that somebody on the commission knows what their job is. But that fact ensures that somebody else doesn’t know what their job is. In this context of this posting, the first quote and the second quote are completely contradictory in terms of FCC regulatory function.

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