U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) lauded a Monday move by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue the ban on in-flight cell phone calls, calling the stance “common sense.”
The ban has been in place since 1991. In 2013, Alexander and Sen. Dian Feinstein (D-Calif.) sponsored a bill to set the ban formally into law.
At that time, the FCC considered lifting the ban with the then-new-FCC-chairman Tom Wheeler saying “the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules.”
Current FCC chairman Ajit Pai said Monday that the 2013 consideration was “ill-conceived.”
“I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest,” Pai said in a statement Monday. “Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.”
For this, Alexander said Pai “earned the gratitude of 2 million Americans who fly.” While privacy on an airplane may not be enshrined in the Constitution, he said, “surely it is in common sense.”
“Imagine 2 million passengers, hurtling through space, trapped in 17-inch-wide seats, yapping their innermost thoughts,” Alexander said in a statement. “The Transportation Security Administration would have to hire three times as many air marshals to deal with the fistfights.”
Alexander said airport lobbies are sometimes filled with travelers “shouting personal details into a microphone: babbling about last night’s love life, bathroom plans, next week’s schedule, orders to an assistant, arguments with spouses. Imagine this noise while you travel, restrained by your seatbelt, unable to escape.”
The FCC will consider making the ban permanent with an upcoming review and vote.