Saturday, September 25, 2021

Turner co-sponsors bill to hold Ligado Networks liable for satellite interference

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However, Rep. Turner and his colleagues seek more accountability from Ligado and cosponsored the Recognizing and Ensuring Taxpayer Access to Infrastructure Necessary (RETAIN) for GPS and Satellite Communications Act of 2021, H.R. 4634, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), which would require Ligado to cover the cost for correcting any interference their operations create for the public or private sector.   “The FCC’s April 2020 Ligado order represented a challenge to our national security with the harm it posed to equipment critical to the Department of Defense, not to mention to the GPS equipment spanning multiple industries, because of one company’s actions,” Rep. Turner said. “The RETAIN Act sets a precedent that this cannot occur without assigning financial responsibility for the harmful impacts of what the order authorizes.”

Among the members who joined Rep. Turner on July 22 as an original cosponsor of H.R. 4634 are U.S. Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), and Frank Lucas (R-OK). The measure is identical to S. 2166, introduced on June 22 by U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Rep. Thompson noted that satellite communications and GPS networks enable multiple sectors of the American economy to continue innovating and outperforming America’s international competitors. “These innovations also require safeguards and accountability, which the RETAIN Act will provide, particularly in the agricultural sector,” he said. 

“The majority of GPS devices in the United States are used by consumers — these costs mustn’t be passed to them,” said Rep. Lucas, who added that the RETAIN Act will ensure “all costs are rightly upheld on Ligado and not taxpayers and consumers.” “Critical communication systems are essential for consumers, businesses and our government,” Rep. Calvert added. “I’m proud to cosponsor the RETAIN Act, which will help protect this fundamental infrastructure, our economy and our national security.”

Rep. Lucas pointed out that while the FCC has ordered Ligado to be held responsible for its interference, the FCC Ligado Order fails to hold Ligado completely responsible across both public and private sector infrastructure. “Both our nation’s military and ordinary Americans rely on satellites and GPS, whether it be in ensuring our national security or to tasks inherent to our daily lives like driving to work, using the ATM, or calling a friend,” said Rep. Turner. “It is because of this utmost importance that I am supporting the RETAIN Act.”

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