Here is yet another executive order.
One has to wonder what this one aims to accomplish?
It starts off by explaining that the government has to be able to maintain stable and robust communications systems for national security purposes. But it’s policy statement concludes with a confusing sentence.
The Federal Government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions. Survivable, resilient, enduring, and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; State, local, territorial, and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies, and other nations. Such communications must be possible under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies, and improve national resilience. The views of all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public must inform the development of national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) communications policies, programs, and capabilities.
What does “inform the development of national security and emergency preparedness” mean? Regulations, no doubt.
If you can make it through this order without your eyes glazing over, you might detect that there is a lot of power implied here – only to be used in case of emergency, of course. Ostensibly, this is all very reasonable – unless you have a government prone to manufacture crises.
Here are some bits that caught this reader’s eye. Section 5.3 seems reasonable, the government can allocate it’s frequencies among its agencies as it sees fit, in time of emergency.
Sec. 5.3. The Secretary of Commerce shall: (a) provide advice and guidance to the Executive Committee on the use of technical standards and metrics to support execution of NS/EP communications;
(e) develop, maintain, and publish policies, plans, and procedures for the management and use of radio frequency assignments, including the authority to amend, modify, or revoke such assignments, in those parts of the electromagnetic spectrum assigned to the Federal Government; and
(f) administer a system of radio spectrum priorities for those spectrum-dependent telecommunications resources belonging to and operated by the Federal Government and certify or approve such radio spectrum priorities, including the resolution of conflicts in or among such radio spectrum priorities during a crisis or emergency.
However, Section 5.6 is another matter.
Sec. 5.6. The Federal Communications Commission performs such functions as are required by law, including: (a) with respect to all entities licensed or regulated by the Federal Communications Commission: the extension, discontinuance, or reduction of common carrier facilities or services; the control of common carrier rates, charges, practices, and classifications; the construction, authorization, activation, deactivation, or closing of radio stations, services, and facilities; the assignment of radio frequencies to Federal Communications Commission licensees; the investigation of violations of pertinent law; and the assessment of communications service provider emergency needs and resources; …
Sinister? Maybe. Broad-based authority – definitely. But hey, this is the Obama administration, and they would never abuse their authority, would they?