Bilirakis Bill Seeks to Increase Penalties for ‘Pirate Radio’ Operators
Pirate signals can pose a significant threat to public safety, oftentimes disrupting public safety communications, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis said.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, announced that public safety legislation directed at operators of so-called pirate radio passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday (Feb. 26).
The legislation, which Bilirakis co-authored U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, would increase penalties for anyone caught engaging in unlawful broadcasting, sometimes referred to as ‘pirate radio.’ Pirate signals can pose a significant threat to public safety, oftentimes disrupting Federal Aviation Administration operations, the Emergency Alert System and other tools relied upon by first responders engaged in protecting public safety.
“We need to make sure that these illegal operators do not interfere with public safety communications,”Bilirakis said. “These illegal actors not only hurt our economy, but they can prevent people from receiving important emergency information during a crisis. This bill will give teeth to enforcement of illegal radio operators by hitting them in their pocketbook and better stop these illegal actors for good.
“As part of my work on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I look forward to passing a similar bill to increase penalties in order to combat illegal robocalls, which have skyrocketed in recent years. These calls are not only a nuisance and a tool used to defraud vulnerable populations, they have become a legitimate threat to our public information system.”
The PIRATE Act is an acronym that stands for Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act.The bill is nearly identical to legislation of the same name that passed the House last year. It has been assigned the new designation H.R. 583 for the new legislative session.The new bill has been endorsed by the National Association for Broadcasters, New York State Broadcasters Association, and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.
Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
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