drone certificationFCC gives state prisons tech options to quash cellphones

July 14, 2021by helo-10

Columbia, S.C. — Federal regulators are giving state prisons across the country more technological options to combat contraband cellphones, which prison officials have long said represent the greatest security threat behind bars.

The Federal Communications Commission had been set to discuss “taking steps to combat contraband wireless devices in correctional facilities” during a meeting Tuesday, but officials said at the beginning of the discussion that they had already adopted a ruling on the issue and wouldn’t be going over it.

In a comment posted online, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the commission’s action “sets up a streamlined system for corrections department officials to use certified contraband interdiction systems to identify where contraband phones may be in use and request that wireless carriers have them deactivated.”

The ruling responds to “last year’s appropriations legislation directing us to adopt rules to require wireless carriers to disable contraband devices upon proper identification,” she wrote.

The move stops short of addressing out-and-out cell signal jamming, something prisons officials say would help them render contraband phones useless to inmates, who use the devices for unfettered, unmonitored communication.

But Rosenworcel said the commission is open to taking further action, noting that the FCC will seek comment on further rule updates and “the potential for other systems to help us combat the proliferation of contraband phones,” to the extent federal law allows.

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