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Denial of Rolan Clark Amateur Petition for Rulemaking

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Released: November 5, 2012
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
November 5, 2012
DA 12-1772
Rolan O. Clark
5807 Adamstown Road
Adamstown, MD 21710-9614
Re: Petition for rule changes in 47 CFR Part 97.219, filed February 3, 2012
Dear Mr. Clark:
This is in response to the above-referenced petition for rulemaking that you filed on February 3,
2012 (Petition). You request that Section 97.219 of the Commission’s Rules1 be amended regarding the
responsibility of control operators in message forwarding systems for retransmitted messages that violate
the Commission’s rules. Specifically, you propose that the phrase “except as noted in paragraph (d) of
this section, for stations participating in a message forwarding system” be removed from Section
97.219(c)2 and that Section 97.219(d)3 be removed.4 For the reasons set forth below, we dismiss the
Section 97.219(d) currently provides that, for amateur service stations participating in a message
forwarding system, the control operator of the first forwarding station must either authenticate the identity
of the station from which it accepts communications on behalf of the system or accept accountability for
any violation of the Part 97 rules contained in messages it retransmits to the system.5 In your Petition,
you state that you believe that the control operator of the first forwarding station in a message forwarding
system “should have the same standing as [the control operator of a repeater that retransmits inadvertently
communications that violate the rules] because the intent to accomplish communications consisting of
text and/or voice communications is the same.”6 You also state that Section 97.219(d) “is ambiguous as it
gives no direction to the method and degree of processes and or procedures needed to define the degree of
‘authenticate,’”7 and “implies that there would be a visually obtainable copy of the suspected violative
transmission else it becomes hearsay.”8 You propose to address these differences between a message
forwarding system and a repeater by conforming Section 97.219 to Section 97.205(g).9 Specifically, you

1 47 C.F.R. § 97.219.
2 47 C.F.R. § 97.219(c).
3 47 C.F.R. § 97.219(d).
4 See Petition at 1.
5 See 47 C.F.R. § 97.219(d).
6 See Petition at 2.
7 See id.
8 See id. at 3.
9 See id. at 3-4.

Mr. Rolan O. Clark 2.
propose to require that the originator of a message that is entered into a message forwarding system be the
only licensee responsible for the content of the message.10
In 1994, the Commission amended the amateur service rules to accommodate the operation of
high speed message forwarding systems while retaining safeguards to prevent misuse.11 It noted that the
development of digital technology had resulted in thousands of amateur operators voluntarily linking their
individually-licensed stations together to form easily-accessible high volume, high speed ad hoc message
forwarding systems.12 It also noted that, under the then-current Section 97.103(a) of the Rules13 each
station licensee and control operator was accountable for the proper operation of the station which
required, in effect, the control operator of every forwarding station to review each message for improper
content prior to its retransmission.14 The Commission amended the rules to accommodate the amateur
service community’s desire to operate high speed message forwarding systems by adding Section 97.219,
which provided that the control operators of intermediate forwarding stations, other than the first
forwarding station, would not be held accountable when their stations retransmitted improper
communications inadvertently.15 It noted that holding accountable the control operators of the first
forwarding stations, but not control operators of intermediate forwarding stations, would facilitate high
speed message forwarding yet retain a degree of protection against abuse.16 It also agreed with
commenters that the accommodations for message forwarding systems should not apply to other
operating activities such as repeaters and auxiliary stations,17 and it decided to leave questions regarding
how to authenticate the identity of the originating station to the designers of the systems.18
The Commission considered comments arguing that the obligation of the control operator of the
first forwarding station should be only to establish the identity of the station originating the message and
that it was not necessary to hold any control operator of a forwarding station accountable for improper
communications.19 It noted that because these systems can be an easy target for misuse by uncooperative
operators and non-licensees, and it can be difficult to establish after the fact that a particular station
originated a fleeting high speed digital transmission, there must be ongoing oversight of the system.20

10 See id. at 4.
11 See Amendment of Part 97 of the Commission's Rules Concerning Message Forwarding Systems in the
Amateur Service, Report and Order, 9 FCC Rcd 1786 (1994) (Report and Order).
12 See id. at 1786 ¶ 2.
13 See 47 C.F.R. § 97.103(a) (1994).
14 See Report and Order, 9 FCC Rcd at 1786 ¶ 3.
15 See id.
16 See id.
17 See id. at 1786 ¶ 3, 1787 ¶ 6.
18 See id. at 1787 ¶ 5.
19 See id. at 1786 ¶ 4.
20 See id. at 1787 ¶ 5.

Mr. Rolan O. Clark 3.
The Commission decided that the control operators of the first forwarding stations are in the best position
to provide such oversight because they are the stations that accept, on behalf of the system, messages
from originating stations.21 It declined to hold the control operator of the first forwarding station
accountable for retransmitting improper communications, but rather, required that the licensee of the first
forwarding station either authenticate the identity of the station from which it accepts communications on
behalf of the system or accept accountability for the content of the message.22
Thus, the Commission considered and rejected requirements such as you propose in your Petition
when it adopted the message forwarding system rules in 1994. Your present Petition does not
demonstrate or even suggest that any relevant circumstances have changed such as to merit
reconsideration of this decision. Your current proposal does not demonstrate that revising this rule as
requested would provide the ongoing oversight of message forwarding systems that must be present. To
the contrary, your proposal asks for an accommodation for message forwarding systems that commenters
said should not apply to these systems. Consequently, we conclude that it does not present grounds for
the Commission to propose amending Section 97.219, and we dismiss the Petition.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 4(i) and (j) and 303(r) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), (j), 303(r), and Section 1.401(e) of the
Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.401(e), that the petition for rulemaking filed by Rolan O. Clark on
February 3, 2012 IS DISMISSED.
This action is taken under delegated authority pursuant to Sections 0.131 and 0.331 of the
Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.131 and 0.331.
Scot Stone
Deputy Chief, Mobility Division
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

21 Id.
22 Id.

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