1994-08-23 - Re: Scanner Banners

Header Data

From: die@pig (Dave Emery)
To: j.hastings6@genie.geis.com
Message Hash: bfbb921e6a49dbd192284a1a101c1c8d7f4049df88a02d23c25cf61a489de132
Message ID: <9408230446.AA13767@pig>
Reply To: <199408230256.AA212650583@relay2.geis.com>
UTC Datetime: 1994-08-23 04:47:59 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 22 Aug 94 21:47:59 PDT

Raw message

From: die@pig (Dave Emery)
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 94 21:47:59 PDT
To: j.hastings6@genie.geis.com
Subject: Re: Scanner Banners
In-Reply-To: <199408230256.AA212650583@relay2.geis.com>
Message-ID: <9408230446.AA13767@pig>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

	 Corny N8TQJ writes on Ham packet:

>          I would love to know what the Feds are up to, as cellular phones
> will be digitally encrypted shortly. Is this cell phone "ban" a legal prec-
> ident to ban further frequencies from citizen's monitoring access?

	Not the feds, but Congress under intense pressure from cellular
lobbiests.  Most of the working federal types such as the FCC and DOJ
have admitted the whole anti-radio-listening ban is uneforceable - and
as far as I am aware there have been only two prosecutions for violating
it, both flagrant examples of people disclosing the contents of radio
communications in very inappropriate ways. 

	The cellular scanner ban was an attempt by the lobbiests to do
something more practical than foisting unenforceable laws with draconian
penalties (10 years in jail and $250,000 fine) on the rest of us. 
Essentially the justice department and FCC have stated that they cannot
enforce the listening ban and will not except in flagrant and abusive
cases with clear malicious intent.  So cell listening went on to become
popular and the lobbiests found a new tactic, banning the reluctant FCC
from type approving any scanner that could tune cellular frequencies or
be modified to do so by some simple act.  Unfortunately Congress
again failed to realize that one cannot legislate the laws of physics
and of course modifying a radio to tune these bands by such simple
strategies as downconversion or simple modifications to the synthesizer
or control microprocessor or even just reception via images on an
unmodified radio is still possible and just about as hard to prevent as
any other private radio listening. 
	Many of us who dabble with radios as a hobby fear that the next
step in this game will be to outlaw possession of, modification or
construction of, buying or selling of, and even perhaps simple
non-criminal use of radios capable of receiving forbidden frequencies or
non-standard modulations.  This will no doubt be justified on the
grounds that the present bans on listening are too hard to enforce and
prosecute and therefore an easier to enforce ban such as one on simple
possession is needed to rid the country of this awful scourge.  This, of
course, would criminalize tens of millions of radios and make millions
of radio owners outlaws, but given the the fact that Congress has passed
the two present absurd laws in the face of fairly widespread objections
from knowlagable members of the technical community that such laws make
no sense and that such radios have many legitimate uses, such a
possiblity seems all too real. 

	And given that the cell lobby has established the precedant of
requiring protection of it's frequencies, what is to stop the police
chief lobbies from demanding equivalent protection of police
frequencies, or other groups demanding that radio gear capable of
picking up their transmissions be banned ? Many of us in the radio hobby
fully expect that this strategy will eventually result in the attainment
of the goals of some of the rabidly anti-monitoring types who tried to
have the 1986 ECPA severely criminalize listening to any radio
transmission whatsoever except the public part of AM, FM and TV
broadcasts (no auxiliary or subsidiary signal listening allowed) and ham
radio and CB transmissions which have never been considered private. 

	As for digital cellular, the NSA has successfully quietly
pressured the standards bodies with threats of export bans and neither
of the two major digital systems will incorperate hard encryption of
voice traffic as a normal option.  Digital cellular traffic will be
significantly harder to intercept than the simple fm analog kind for a
number of technical reasons however, and of course present day analog
scanners won't pick it up at all.  A ban on type approval of any radio
capable of receiving digital cellular (other than a cellphone) is
already part of the present cell scanner ban, so such radios even if not
technically scanners will never be sold to the public at large (you can
be sure that the law enforcement and spook community will still buy them
by the truckload, however, just as they have bought many many thousands
of high end (such as ICOM) scanners capable of intercepting analog cellular). 

	> Noah's flood began with one raindrop.

	Sure did.

 						Dave Emery, N1PRE