Every now and then someone annoys the FCC. While we may joke a bit about how removing an antenna, or taking off the back of a radio is illegal and the FCC will come and get you! Well, sometimes they do go after people or even companies. This time it is Midland Radios.
As you can read in this document, the FCC has fined Midland for selling radios with voice scrambling. You had no idea that was some kind of violation? Well, it turns out it is a rather gray area. You are not supposed to be able to do this with a GMRS radio it would seem.
Section 95.183(a)(4) of the Rules3 prohibits GMRS operators from transmitting coded messages and messages with hidden meanings. The Enforcement Bureau's Spectrum Enforcement Division ("Division") received information indicating that Midland was marketing GMRS transmitters that have a voice scrambling feature. After its receipt of this information, the Division began an investigation. In pursuance of the investigation, the Division conducted internet research on February 24, 2009, on the website www.midlandradio.com. During the internet research, Division personnel observed that Midland was offering for sale the following GMRS transmitter models described as having a "Voice Privacy Scramble" feature: GXT900VP4 and GXT950VP4.
In simple terms: You may not have voice scrambling on a GMRS radio. Someone turned in Midland to the FCC, they were in a bad mood that day, the FCC decided to punish them.
Now some of you are thinking about all of the radios out there with this feature, and not just Midland's! We could sit here all day and try to figure out why the FCC has targeted Midland. One of the better opinions I have read feels that this is a warning to everyone! Midland got turned in, an investigation was started, so Midland is being used as an example to everyone else. We do not have all of the facts on this. Midland may have even been warned first to stop selling the radios that had voice scrambling.
Midland has been fined a very small amount (from their perspective) and told to stop selling the radios with voice scrambling. Now if other manufacturers follow, or decide to take on the FCC and challenge the ruling... it should be interesting. Kenwood probably has enough lawyers and money to throw at this just for fun.
This all may also be a knee-jerk reaction by the FCC. "Someone is selling radios with voice scrambling, we must stop this now! Civilization may collapse if we do not act!"
Personally, I think the FCC had little idea about any of this until Midland was turned in. They are now being used as a warning by the current FCC administration as to who is in charge. No more Mr. Nice Government Agency. So stop taking those radios apart and fiddling with the antennas you crazy kids! And don't walk on the grass!