OT?: Illegal Transmitters

From: Christian Fandt <cfandt_at_netsync.net>
Date: Tue Dec 28 18:44:06 1999

Upon the date 05:05 PM 12/28/99 -0500, wpe101_at_banet.net said something like:
>I got this url off the Ramsey site, re: the applicable law.. Being a scanner
>and SWL
>enthusiast, it kind of worries me...

Don't worry too much. Wording was put in to ensure the understanding that
it is illegal to use electronic, mechanical, or other devices in a
"surreptitious interception" mode.

Because of this wording it will be hard for the feds to win a case against
scanner and SWL (short wave radio listener) enthusiasts because of the long
established history of the hobbies. Section 2511, Subsection (2), (g)
protects such action anyway:
<http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/2511.html>. There is a huge
population of scanner and SW receiver owners including many of us on this
list. Furthermore, the primary use of scanners and SW receivers (the
"electronic, mechanical, or other device") has long been known to be not
for surreptitious (or secret) interception of radio communications but for
entertainment, amateur radio, business and/or legitimate emergency use. The
ACLU, industry lobbyists, ARRL, SWL/scanner clubs, etc., singularly or in
concert, would raise hell in court in support of the non-threatening uses
of scanners and SW radios. This is regardless of the fact such hardware
could indeed be used for illegal interception of transmissions as pointed
out in this law.

It should be pointed out that the long-known illegality applicable to
SWL's, hams and scanner enthusiasts arises from the sharing of received
information with *anybody* else without knowledge or approval of the
originator per FCC rules and Section 2511 of Chapter 119 of the 18 USC of
which the URL is above.

Whew, if Senator Barry Goldwater (an avid radio amateur who passed away
some years ago after retiring from Congress) could see what happened to
Ramsey Electronics; he would cuss up a storm and perhaps try to include
verifiable hobbist use as a lawful use of *specific* catagories of devices
mentioned as subject to the raids discussed on Ramsey's website :-0

As far as computer enthusiasts are concerned (to push this towards being on
topic), the illegality arises when one uses his/her computer to break into,
or 'hack', a computer or network without knowledge or permission of the
owner whether to do damage or just snoop around --the derisive usage of the
term 'hacker'. The wording of Chapter 119 Section 2511 of the code can
apply to computing as it's 'wire' communication and sometimes even consists
of electronic, or radio, communication.

Back to old computers now . . .

Regards, Chris
-- --
Christian Fandt, Electronic/Electrical Historian
Jamestown, NY USA cfandt_at_netsync.net
        Member of Antique Wireless Association
        URL: http://www.antiquewireless.org/
Received on Tue Dec 28 1999 - 18:44:06 GMT

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