It is unclear why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has started interpreting a decade old law in this way, but it meant over the weekend SpaceX wasn't able to give its fans a view of the ten new Iridium satellites it released into orbit from its Falcon 9 upper stage.
It appears that since President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump took office, NOAA has recently decided to start interpreting or enforcing a decades old law in a new way. The agency says SpaceX and other commercial space companies must apply for a licence to broadcast video from orbit. We guess it is to make sure that footage showing the earth as globe are not leaked out in such a way that offends Trump supporters some of which believe that the earth is flat, because that is what it says in the Bible and anything else is a conspiracy to cover up the truth.
"The National and Commercial Space Programme Act requires a commercial remote sensing license for companies having the capacity to take an image of Earth while on orbit", NOAA said in a statement last week. "Now that launch companies are putting video cameras on stage 2 rockets that reach an on-orbit status; all such launches will be held to the requirements of the law and its conditions."
The law in question has been on the books in its current form since at least 2010 and SpaceX has been broadcasting video back to Earth from orbit for years without issue or, apparently, licence.
But the director of NOAA's Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) office says her staff was not aware of the unlicensed cameras on numerous earlier launches, and now it does, it is telling them to stop it.