Presidential Control of Wireless and Cable Information Leaving the United States


The President has authority under the Communications Act of 1934 to control any radio station so as to prevent the transmission from the United States of any message, or part thereof, inimical to the national security and foreign policy of the nation. Specific emergency powers like those granted over radio are not contained in the Communications Act, or elsewhere, with respect to cables. But should the President as Commander in Chief and under his other constitutional powers deem such action essential to the protection of the armed forces or the national security, or the protection of shipping, in a time of unlimited national emergency, he could exercise similar control through the Army or Navy over the transmission by cable of messages from the United States.

A great deal can be done by the President with respect to censorship of second, third, and fourth class mail; but in view of the protection which the existing statutes afford to sealed first class mail, the problem there is a difficult one, and it is still being studied.

Updated July 9, 2014