Brought to you as a public service of the Open Spectrum Foundation (Stichting Open Spectrum), Amsterdam - Prague
Last February, Open Spectrum UK filed comments in an Ofcom consultation and put forward a human rights argument against radio licensing. This raised eyebrows as licensing is not often seen in that perspective. More eyebrows were raised when an Irish group, Scagaire, used a similar argument in their comments to ComReg during another consultation a few weeks later.
So we decided to ask Article 19, the highly regarded NGO based in London which monitors legal threats to freedom of expression around the world, if they had an opinion on radio licensing and communication rights and freedoms. In response they released a 4-page analysis entitled "The legitimacy of licence requirements for the use of wireless communications devices." We urge you to read it in full, but here are some of the main points, with bold used for statements we thought were especially important:
"Licence requirements applicable to all owners of a particular type of device generally contravene international law, because they do not serve a legitimate purpose; mere ownership of a particular instrument does not normally present any risk of societal harm. On the other hand, no sweeping assessment can be made of the legitimacy of licencing regimes for the use of wireless communications devices, and a case-by-case analysis is necessary..."
"Can spectrum licensing breach human rights law?" by Pamela Whitby and Martin Sims, PolicyTracker.com, 18 August 2005.
"New UK Group to Push for Unlicensed Spectrum," by Nancy Gohring, Wi-Fi Net News Europe, 25 February 2005.
"Irish Policy Group Pushes for Unlicensed Spectrum," by Nancy Gohring, Wi-Fi Net News Europe, 7 March 2005.
"Spectrum Policy as Social Policy" - powerpoint presentation by Robert Horvitz at the "Open Wireless Futures" workshop hosted by Cambridge University's Communications Innovation Institute, 19 April 2005.
"Statement on the Right to Communicate," by Article 19 for the World Summit on the Information Society (Document WSIS/PC-2/CONTR/95-E), February 2003.