Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Communications Government Transportation Politics

In-flight Cell Ban Advances In Congress 404

Posted by timothy
from the myopia-has-a-new-name dept.
narramissic writes "The awkwardly named Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace (HANG UP) Act was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on a voice vote Thursday. The bill would make permanent the long-standing ban on in-flight cell phone calls by the FAA and FCC. 'Polls show the public overwhelmingly doesn't want to be subjected to people talking on their cell phones on increasingly over-packed airplanes. However, with Internet access just around the corner on U.S. flights, it won't be long before the ban on voice communications on in-flight planes is lifted,' said Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon who co-sponsored the HANG UP Act in a statement. 'Cash-strapped airlines could end up charging some passengers to use their phones while charging others to sit in a phone-free section of the plane,' he said."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

In-flight Cell Ban Advances In Congress

Comments Filter:
  • or perhaps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:03AM (#24430423)

    They could just let individual air lines react to market forces.

  • Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fungus King (860489) <mjlaceyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:10AM (#24430455)

    Why do people need to use their phones in-flight anyway? I can understand the need for communication for people travelling on business to keep in touch with their office, but what's wrong with e-mail? A large number of people find flying an uncomfortable/annoying/stressful etc experience as it is without having to hear people talk over everyone else so someone elsewhere can hear them. I know the modern world is fast-paced, but honestly, it can wait, can't it?!

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:10AM (#24430459)

    If people really don't want to be bothered by cellphones then the airlines could just ban people from using them on the plane and use this as a selling point.
    Why does the government have to poke at this one?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:11AM (#24430469)

    No thanks. I already get that for free. And if that ever changes, I'll just not fly with that airline, or not fly period. I don't mind driving cross-country to go on a vacation. And in the unlikely event that I do find myself stuck on a plane next to some jackass that can't remove their phone from their ear for 3 fucking hours, I'll just ask them to please be considerate of the people around them, or put on my headphones, or just start watching a movie on my laptop at maximum volume.

  • by Zarhan (415465) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:14AM (#24430487)

    Because for some reason, when two people are talking right next to one another, they tend to whisper or at least talk in low voice.

    For some reason, give someone a cellphone and if they are not downright shouting their voice somehow still seems to carry at least a few rows. You can observe this every day in any bus/train. Even though the other end will definitely hear you even if you talk at low volume.

  • Sure go ahead (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:16AM (#24430495)
    Cash-strapped airlines could end up charging some passengers to use their phones while charging others to sit in a phone-free section of the plane

    Thereby enabling smarter airlines such as Southwest to take an ever greater market share by not doing stupid things like that.
  • Re:or perhaps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adpsimpson (956630) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:18AM (#24430515)

    Then individual airlines could have clauses in their ticketing agreements like "Access for Suitably Surveyed Customers to Lousy Overcharged Wireless Networks.

    Seriously, what's the obsession with rediculous names for laws? PATRIOT, PRO-IP, CAN SPAM to name a few. If this law was called, for example, "On board communications act, 2008," I'd have a lot more time to listen to it.

  • I'm not sure how that would be possible, or make a difference. Considering the tight confines of an airplane (for most US trips), if you have more than 3 people talking on phones at a time they'll likely be shouting soon to hear themselves over the other conversations. At which point everyone who isn't part of those conversations can no longer hear anything but those conversations.

    It should be obvious why passengers prefer other people not use cell phones in flight. There is no way to escape other peoples' calls when you have dozens to hundreds of people stuffed into a flying sardine can.
  • Re:or perhaps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:37AM (#24430629)

    How do you think your voting record would look to the electorate if you voted against the "Protect Our Children from Internet Paedophiles and Terrorists" act? Even if that act was two hundred pages of paying for bridges in Alaska and allowing torture of US civilians without a warrant?

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bwalling (195998) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:40AM (#24430643) Homepage
    While a majority may wish to have no cell phones on airplanes, it is no business of the government to pass a law regarding such a thing. If there were safety concerns, they could enter a say in the matter, but they have no business passing laws over a perceived desire for less chatter. This would get slammed in a court, so why should they even bother wasting our time and tax dollars?
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:41AM (#24430663)

    Polls show the public overwhelmingly doesn't want to be subjected to people talking on their cell phones on increasingly over-packed airplanes.

    It's not the government's job to protect people from mild annoyances. If it's really true that the public "overwhelmingly" dislikes this, then that's a market the airlines can capitalise on. The market should solve this, and if it doesn't, tough.

    What next? The government monitoring the Internet and fining anybody who says LOL U WAT? 'Cause, you know, that irritates me, and apparently I have the right not to be irritated. Next up: passing the Freedom from Arm Rest Theft act.

  • by deraj123 (1225722) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:48AM (#24430709)

    And I agree with everything you just said. Except the implied notion that this somehow requires a law.

  • Re:Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LukeWebber (117950) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:49AM (#24430717)

    Perhaps because there's not a lot else to do. Seriously, you're stuck in a cramped airline seat. Why not catch up on your calls? As long as you're not swearing and/or speaking over-loudly, what's the big deal?

    I know how this sort of movement takes root. You hear some loud wanker mouthing off all through a two-hour flight and you think "those things should be banned". You forget about the times you've taken a call from your daughter, quietly cleared up a little problem and rung off. Mobile phones are a part of life, and there are always tossers who will piss you off in the way they use them, but that's just business as usual. deal with it and move on.

  • Re:The Children (Score:2, Insightful)

    by deraj123 (1225722) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:50AM (#24430721)

    Troll?? If the issue is people on planes being annoyed because of other people making noise, then children are right at the top of this list.

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:52AM (#24430747) Homepage Journal

    Is it that people talk loudly on cellphones and therefore you notice, or is that that some people talk loudly on cellphones, but people who talk quietly on cellphones don't attract attention, so the only people on cellphones you notice are those that speak loudly?

    I don't buy the "Cellphones make people rude and loud" claim. I don't get complaints, rude stares, or any other signs my use of my cellphone is causing annoyance but I see others subjected to that treatment when they really are loud and annoying. I have to assume that I, like probably 95% of the population, am simply invisible, because I don't speak loudly into my phone, I keep my conversations in public short, and my cellphone uses vibration to notify me of calls rather than a loud, annoying, ring.

  • by hummassa (157160) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:53AM (#24430753) Homepage Journal

    that will probably never procreate. :-)

    Let me draw this picture for you: kids are randomly noisy. There is absolutely nothing parents can do about kids' noise when they are up to it. Even a duck-tape-on-the-mouth kid makes a lot of noise. :-)

    If you have some smart answer in the form of "if you do X, the kid will stay put", let me give you the news: it will not work. Kids only stay quiet... if they "want" to.

  • Re:Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ngarrang (1023425) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:02AM (#24430831) Journal

    While a majority may wish to have no cell phones on airplanes...

    The majority is ruling, and complaining, about a minority that is making itself so obnoxious as to border on rude. If these cell phone talkers had any sense of respect of others and would turn off their digital leash for the flight, we wouldn't have this problem. But, noooo, we get hear all about Aunt Edna's colonoscopy and your cousin Fred's erectile dysfunction problem.

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fungus King (860489) <mjlaceyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:04AM (#24430839)

    Personally I think it's the business of the government to protect the interests of the majority... maybe... I'll have to think about that a bit more.

    Anyway. I'm English and there might be a different majority opinion in this country compared to the US (where I'd expect a more 'it's our right to use our phones on the plane'-type stance)... my personal opinion is that using a phone in a situation where you have to raise your voice significantly to be heard above the ambient noise - and subsequently by everyone else - is pretty rude - which is why I wouldn't inflict my conversation on anyone else (unless it's absolutely necessary, but it's hard to conceive of a situation where that might be the case).

    Perhaps it's a bit like the smoking ban in this country - most people don't want to breathe the smoke of others, the majority are happy about the ban, but there's a loud collection of unhappy smokers (obviously). To be honest they can moan all they want, it's not like the government's confiscated their cigarettes!

  • Re:or perhaps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:09AM (#24430875)

    What.

    They really think that use of cellphones is on the same level as stopping a known carcinogen from cycling through the air of every one on board?

    Good grief.

  • Re:Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jcrousedotcom (999175) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:21AM (#24431049) Homepage
    You hit the nail on the head - but they have proven many times [washingtonpost.com] that they really don't care about what is really important. They are too worried that someone might be using steroids to hit one more home run.

    I am not really sure how things like this cell phone ban, steroid use or a hundred other things I could talk about that they focus on become agenda - it appears to me that the gov't is trying to accomplish two things:

    1. Power. The power that congress has has been a little unchecked and is abused for both professional and personal gain tons of time. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

    2. Justification. They need to justify why they are there. It is kind of like when the Hollywood types talk about things they have little or no knowledge of. They are trying to justify their position or title.

    I don't know what the fix is for the government thing. Unfortunately it is few and far in between folks that actually care. Look at the voting rates. I truly think that we could eliminate a good portion of our deficit spending just by not wasting tax dollars on things like this Cell phone ban.

    Just my two cents. Thanks for letting me use my soapbox. :)
  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:26AM (#24431133) Homepage Journal

    One (smoking) is hazardous to the health of everyone on the plan, while the other (cellphone use) is mostly hazardous to the asshat who is yelling into his phone about his golf game yesterday. I say it's hazardous to his health because if I am sitting next to him I am going to shove his phone into whichever of his bodily orifices I can fit it into nice and snugly.

  • by jeremyp (130771) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:35AM (#24431273) Homepage Journal
    Only $20 per trip? Even if the cost to the airline justified the price, I think I'd probably just manage without World of Warcraft for the duration than pay $20 when the hotel at my destination will probably give it to me for free, or at least a lower price.
  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeremyp (130771) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:47AM (#24431463) Homepage Journal

    I'm English too, but I disagree with you.

    The government has no business legislating against rudeness. Talking loudly on a mobile phone is obnoxious and rude, but so is talking loudly. Are you going to make that illegal? What about listening to MP3 players? Or queue jumping? Or picking your nose? Or farting?

    Smoking in an enclosed space is obnoxious and rude, but it is also harmful. That's why it is banned in the workplace in the UK.

  • Re:or perhaps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fortyonejb (1116789) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:04AM (#24431725)
    Having to listen to the 17 year old twit of a cheerleader next to me rambling on about her boyfriend and who he was or was not talking to at last weekends party would be much, MUCH more dangerous to my and her health than if she was smoking. I'm just sayin' is all...
  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:06AM (#24431781) Journal

    The majority is ruling, and complaining, about a minority that is making itself so obnoxious as to border on rude. If these cell phone talkers had any sense of respect of others and would turn off their digital leash for the flight, we wouldn't have this problem. But, noooo, we get hear all about Aunt Edna's colonoscopy and your cousin Fred's erectile dysfunction problem.

    Then wouldn't it be more logical for the airline to ask that person to desist from the obnoxious conversation then to get Congress to ban the usage of something that most people are quite capable of using without annoying those around them?

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ngarrang (1023425) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:10AM (#24431849) Journal

    Then wouldn't it be more logical for the airline to ask that person to desist from the obnoxious conversation then to get Congress to ban the usage of something that most people are quite capable of using without annoying those around them?

    Next time a cell phone talker lights up their phone next to you on a bus, the street, anywhere...ask them in a pleasant voice to stop talking on the phone, it is causing noise pollution. Let me know the response you get.

    The last time I did just that, using words like 'please' and a pleasant tone of voice got me a look that "f--- you" and they kept on talking.

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:15AM (#24431947) Journal

    Next time a cell phone talker lights up their phone next to you on a bus, the street, anywhere...ask them in a pleasant voice to stop talking on the phone, it is causing noise pollution. Let me know the response you get.

    The last time I did just that, using words like 'please' and a pleasant tone of voice got me a look that "f--- you" and they kept on talking.

    You don't have a right to complain about it on the street as the street is a public place the last time I checked. On the bus or airplane you can complain to the driver or flight attendant. If they refuse to do anything about it then next time fly/ride on a carrier that does.

    In short let the marketplace decide and don't turn to the Government to outlaw something that's merely annoying and not actually dangerous or harmful. I don't know about you but I'm getting pretty tired of the nanny state.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:23AM (#24432069)

    How is talking on a cellphone fundamentally different from talking to, say, a friend of yours next to you?

  • Re:or perhaps (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@@@infamous...net> on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:31AM (#24432207) Homepage

    They could just let individual air lines react to market forces.

    Air travel is nowhere near a free market. So long as so much of the infrastructure - airports, air traffic control systems, air security and safety (which, living under flight routes, I take to be an important government job, at least until they let me install my own anti-aircraft battery) - is government provided, talk of "market forces" is just more of the Religion of The Invisible Hand.

  • Re:or perhaps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:40AM (#24432373) Homepage
    I'm not sure how things work in the united states, but it seems like up here in Canada, when they table a bill, it contains only relevant stuff so that the members of parliament, and the citizens, at least have a way of figuring out what's in the bill. Shouldn't it be against the law, or at least greatly frowned upon, to include a whole bunch of completely unrelated issues in a single bill?
  • Re:or perhaps (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lapagecp (914156) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:42AM (#24432409)
    Ok I rarely pull the nanny state argument but this is rediculious. Its one thing to ban people smoking in a confined space filled with non smokers and its another to get congress together to ban people talking on their phones cause its annoying. This is a giant waste of time. How much money do you think it will cost to debate this in congress. Think of how much time and effort goes into each line item of a bill. Fix a bridge or something.
  • by dk.r*nger (460754) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:43AM (#24432425)

    ...making itself so obnoxious as to border on rude.

    Living in freedom includes other peoples right to be obnoxious, as long as they don't force you to be near them while they are. And NO, voluntarily flying around in airplanes is not being forced to anything.

    By the way, you premise is wrong. If the majority had such a big problem with people talking on airplanes, airlines would offer talk-free sections, or even talk-free flights, in order to attract more of the silent fliers.

    Outlawing discomfort is a slide to fascism, just hope and pray that you, your job/profession or some vice you have won't become a discomfort to a majority someday.

  • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johnlcallaway (165670) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:48AM (#24432505)

    What a bullshit answer. The majority has no right to tell the minority what to do *if it doesn't affect their health or safety*. What you are saying is that if the majority wanted to, they could outlaw soapbox protesters also, simply because they are rude and obnoxious.

    What people are really pissed about is that they can't eavesdrop on both sides of the conversation most of the time. Not everyone talks on the cell phone above the levels of a normal conversation.

    What's next, outlawing crying babies?? Or mother's that yell at their kids on a flight??

    People who get that upset over cell phone users need to get over their need to control other people and work on learning to live with a variety of different people, including those that are rude and obnoxious.

  • Re:or perhaps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by springbox (853816) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:59AM (#24432705)
    Because thinking of a backronym is the most important part of making a law
  • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Clever7Devil (985356) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:39AM (#24433561)

    Where is this "majority" concept coming from? Now given, I'm your average /. junkie reading comments on his phone, so no, I didn't RTFA. Is there some survey results in there showing that more people want no cell use on planes than do?

    Does anyone believe that in today's society a majority of people wouldn't use their phones given the chance?

  • Re:or perhaps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Main Gauche (881147) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:56AM (#24433851)

    "They could just let individual air lines react to market forces."

    Or maybe at least a few politicians realize that, if airlines can so openly collude on prices, they can probably collude on any other policies that generates the most revenue.

    You would agree that a monopoly airline would not have to react to "market forces" right? They could make whatever rules (e.g. charge for cell phone access) earn them the most revenues. Well what makes you think that a mere handful of collusive airlines acts much differently than a monopoly?

    This is no free market. If you want a textbook example of barriers to entry, use the airline industry.

  • Re:The Children (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Drogo007 (923906) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:01AM (#24433961)

    last time I travelled with children (18 month old twins) I brought along a bottle of earplugs with enough for almost the entire plane to pass around - just in case I couldn't keep them reasonably quiet.

  • Re:or perhaps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpiderClan (1195655) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:02AM (#24433979) Journal

    The best bet to avoid that is to vote for the "Stop tacking unrelated shit onto legislation" act, which everyone should vote for, anyway, since the current way things are done is just dumb.

  • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:11AM (#24434121) Homepage

    In this case, however, any directions from the flight crew already have the force of law. If the airline simply made it a policy not to allow cell phone use it would be just as legally binding as an act of Congress, while retaining far greater flexibility -- for example, the airline could separate the cell phone users into their own section so as not to bother the rest of the passengers, as suggested in the summary.

    This is similar to the concept of preferring municipal or state laws over federal ones for local issues. A ruling body closer to the problem will tend to come up with a better solution, and if the decision turns out to be a poor one in retrospect it only affects that one area (city, state, or, in this case, airline) instead of everyone.

  • Re:or perhaps (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rub1cnt (1159069) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:14PM (#24435247)
    So..I'm thinking of sponsoring some citizen sponsored legislation...and I have a foolproof method of getting it passed.. call it "the Civil Rights Act of 2008"...1200+ pages of no changes...and a few major changes interspersed throughout the bill..since no one really reads it. These changes being: Repeal the DMCA, Classify the RIAA/MPAA as extortionists and sponsor asset seizure of thier assets...and a few other juicy tidbits. Any sponsors?
  • by Suzuran (163234) on Friday August 01, 2008 @02:39PM (#24437865)

    What part of AIR TRAVEL IS EXTREMELY PAINFUL FOR BABIES do you not understand? You're calling me an intolerant self-centered brat because I don't want you to put your child in extreme pain for your own personal convenience? A BABY IS PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE OF PROPERLY EQUALIZING PRESSURE IN THEIR INNER EAR BY THEMSELVES - They're too small for their eustachian tubes to open far enough to pass air quickly enough. The experience can be traumatizing. There is even potential for permanent ear damage. Parents can sometimes induce equalization by causing baby to suckle or chew during the climb and descent, but they usually aren't told how or when to do this. It may not work depending on the physiology of your baby. Once you are halfway to cruise altitude is too late to learn that baby has ear problems. Don't gamble with your child's hearing just to save time. It's a few days or hours for you if you win, but it's a lifetime with bad or no hearing for THEM if you lose.

    There is such a thing as a SHIP that crosses the oceans periodically carrying passengers. (No, not cruise ships. Passenger ships. Google is your friend.) It's not cheap and it's not fast, but it doesn't put your baby in immense pain. Which is worth more to you?

    If you can't afford passage by ship and don't want your child to suffer, you have to wait. Sorry, sometimes life doesn't work in your favor. Raising children is hard. You can't always take the easy way out. (Don't let this discourage you. Stick it out and raise the kid right. Be persistent and firm. Don't believe that "it takes a village" garbage - Take initiative and be independent. Anyone can raise your kids badly, but only you can raise them right. They'll thank you when they're old enough to understand.)

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (8) I'm on the committee and I *still* don't know what the hell #pragma is for.

Working...