Corporate Pirate Two-Way @ JFK Fined $5,000

This actually went down a month ago, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Gateway Security Systems, Inc. provides security to Terminal #4 at New York’s JFK International Airport. Its contract with the airport began on August, 2001, and it inherited a two-way radio system from the Port Authority. In May, 2002, someone contacted the FCC to report unlicensed two-way radio broadcasts at JFK; two frequencies were in use, and they were being used by Gateway Security Systems employees.
After investigating the FCC hit Gateway with a $10,000 fine for unlicensed broadcasting this past August. Gateway pleaded ignorance of the law: less than a month after it took over security operations at Terminal #4, terrorists hit, and it simply never got around to applying for a license for its radios.
The FCC bought the excuse and halved the fine. Summing up its reasoning:
“Furthermore, much of the operation by Gateway occurred during the period after the attack on the World Trade Center, during which every U. S. airport operated under heightened security. In that regard, Gateway focused on its responsibilities under its contract and not upon the ministerial details of the licensing arrangement for radio equipment handed over to it by the Port Authority. Gateway’s unlicensed operation was not analogous to the intentional unlicensed operation of a ‘pirate’ station operator who operates its station in flagrant violation of Commission rules. In view of these circumstances, we determine that reduction of the $10,000 base forfeiture amount to five thousand dollars ($5,000) is warranted.”
So it does appear, in times of crisis, that the FCC is willing to give folks a little slack on the license issue. There exists a little-known section of the Code of Federal Regulations governing radio during times of crisis. According to 47 CFR 73.3542, the license requirement may be waived and informal license applications may be used
“…on a temporary basis, in extraordinary circumstances requiring emergency operation to serve the public interest. such situations include: emergencies involving danger to life and property; a national emergency proclaimed by the President or the Congress of the U.S.A and; the continuance of any war in which the United States is engaged, and where such action is necessary for the national defense or security or otherwise in furtherance of the war effort.”
The 2002 Mosquito Fleet deployment in Seattle had “informal applications” ready just in case of a visit, and Free Radio San Diego is also testing the loophole.