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FCC withdraws Obama-era proposal to allow cell phone use on planes

(Photo: Getty Images, Robert Nickelsberg)

According to The Washington Post, the Federal Communication Commission has just abandoned a 2013 proposal to finally drop the ban on using cell phones on airplanes. The proposal was introduced by then-chairman Tom Wheeler, and his argument was that new airplane technology had negated old concerns that people had about phones interfering with pilot equipment. Now, though, current FCC chairman Ajit Pai has decided not to move forward with that proposal, calling it “ill-conceived.”

Though the timing may suggest that it’s part of a United-backed conspiracy to prevent people from filming its goons roughing up passengers, the decision reportedly has nothing to do with that. In Pai’s own words, he says reversing the proposal is “a victory for Americans” who “value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.” Basically, he’s putting his foot down and keeping outdated rules in place to create a small paradise free from what he perceives as the tyranny of cell phone use, and we’re all just supposed to ignore the fact that there’s no technological reason to keep your phones off while in flight.


As the Washington Post piece points out, this proposal was unpopular even under Wheeler, which is why he never did anything with it. Apparently, pilots and flight attendants pushed back hard against the proposal, explaining that annoying phone calls would bother passengers and make it harder for them to do their jobs.

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