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   Home   Help Search  
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Author Topic: Legality, Morality and Common Sense.  (Read 5281 times)
KA0SBL
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Posts: 72




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« on: March 23, 2016, 01:52:30 PM »

Something to ponder ...

These days we have scanners and SDR's capable of picking up just about anything. If I understand the rules, one is NOT supposed to decrypt an encrypted communication. One is NOT supposed to act upon anything they hear. And one CAN use any radio, mode or band at their disposal to summon help if there's a threat to life.

Consider the following scenarios:

1. You're scanning the 2-meter ham band and come across what sounds like people using low-powered walkie talkies to case out and rob copper pipe from an abandoned house a block away. It's clear that operating without identification on the ham bands is illegal, but there's no immediate threat to someones life. What do you do?

2. Case #1 except they're planning to rob your neighbors house and you know an elderly person lives there alone. Here there is a clear and immediate threat to someone's safety. What do you do?

3. You're scanning the 6-meter band but your scanner is running out of the band and picks up an open wireless intercom (NOT encrypted) around 49MHz. You hear what sounds like a drug deal. This is a communication intended to be private yet there's no immediate threat to life. What do you do?

4. Same setup as #3 but someone is beating their kids, and it's sounding very very bad. What do you do?


When does one report something to the cops or do nothing out of fear of violating a wiretapping law?

If you chose to do nothing and read about a tragedy later, could you live with that knowing you definitely could have stopped it with a phone call?

Has anyone run into a situation like this?

What do you think?


--K

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AF7JA
Member

Posts: 285




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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2016, 02:38:20 PM »

I will remind you that most of the laws regarding action include "property damage" in the text. None of these scenarios involved wire-taping. The main class of protected wireless communication relates to old, analogue, cell-phones.

I the two incidents involving people, depending on your job you may be a mandated reporter. If that is the case then you would be committing a criminal act to not report them, without regard for how you obtained the information.
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KD8MJR
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Posts: 5557




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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2016, 03:27:38 PM »

Why mention the Radio, just say you drove past a house at XYZ address and saw two suspicious guys that seemed to be robbing copper pipe from an abandoned house.
Let the police handle it from there.

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“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  (Mark Twain)
PITSWL
Member

Posts: 189




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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2016, 04:10:17 PM »

You pointed out that the low-band cordless conversation isn't encrypted, but neither are the communications from the low power walkie-talkies. So the case can be made that you haven't "decrypted" anything and, in the first case, that it's the users of the walkie-talkies activities are causing interference on 2 meters.

You should report them to Laura Smith after you've called the police. Maybe they'll receive a warning letter in the big house.
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"Section 97.101(d) prohibits ALL amateur licensees from causing harmful interference, and does not provide ANY exception for interference caused to other amateurs whom the interferer believes have violated a Commission rule." - DA 16-877 at 17
DRBEN
Member

Posts: 337




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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2016, 06:09:00 PM »

The Wiretap Act, 18 U.S. Code 2510 (passed in 1968) is very broad.

Under the Act, it is illegal to:

Intentionally, or purposefully, intercept, disclose, or use the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication through the use of a "device".

However, there are exceptions that allow otherwise illegal disclosure. Among them are the following:

g) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter or chapter 121 of this title for any person—
(i) to intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public;
(ii) to intercept any radio communication which is transmitted—
(I) by any station for the use of the general public, or that relates to ships, aircraft, vehicles, or persons in distress;
(II) by any governmental, law enforcement, civil defense, private land mobile, or public safety communications system, including police and fire, readily accessible to the general public;
(III) by a station operating on an authorized frequency within the bands allocated to the amateur, citizens band, or general mobile radio services; or
(IV) by any marine or aeronautical communications system;

In any case, all of us have a moral duty and sometimes a legal obligation to act when human life is in danger. In the case of property, there may be no legal obligation and the ethical and moral question may be subject to debate.


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ONAIR
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Posts: 3741




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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2016, 06:09:56 PM »

No need to worry!  Crooks today will probably be using CBs, since they figure no self respecting Ham would ever be monitoring it!!   Roll Eyes
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AF7JA
Member

Posts: 285




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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2016, 05:02:47 AM »

No need to worry!  Crooks today will probably be using CBs, since they figure no self respecting Ham would ever be monitoring it!!   Roll Eyes

In reality, operationally, if they were to use radios at all (which is very unlikely), they would probably use FRS as the units are so easily available.
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ND6M
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Posts: 846




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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2016, 07:00:35 AM »

... If I understand the rules,
(EDIT)
1. one is NOT supposed to decrypt an encrypted communication.
2. One is NOT supposed to act upon anything they hear.
3. And one CAN use any radio, mode or band at their disposal to summon help if there's a threat to life. 

What do you think?


--K



I think you are incorrect on all 3 assumptions
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KC2QYM
Member

Posts: 958




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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2016, 07:28:44 AM »

OK, Mr. Poster, remind me to NOT to call the police the next time I monitor radio traffic of two criminal home invaders planning/executing an invasion of your house because I'm afraid of the wiretap laws.  Just let it just slip by...or a planned kidnapping...or even worse.  So I don't understand your logic.  To worry about the little 'gotchas' in law versus the moral high ground of impeding a criminal act.  Only a coward would make believe he didn't hear or see anything and fail to take prudent action.  Sort of like being the good German during the NAZI period.  "I see nothing, I say nothing"...Yavol Sgt. Schultz!
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AF7JA
Member

Posts: 285




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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2016, 08:23:50 AM »

... If I understand the rules,
(EDIT)
1. one is NOT supposed to decrypt an encrypted communication.
2. One is NOT supposed to act upon anything they hear.
3. And one CAN use any radio, mode or band at their disposal to summon help if there's a threat to life. 

What do you think?


--K



I think you are incorrect on all 3 assumptions

Agreed, on step 3 it really depends where you are. I lived in one place where the SO allowed people to make short, emergency, communications to the SO dispatch on their frequency. I am aware that other places will charge a person with a crime for doing the same thing.
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PITSWL
Member

Posts: 189




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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2016, 10:42:27 AM »

No need to worry!  Crooks today will probably be using CBs, since they figure no self respecting Ham would ever be monitoring it!!   Roll Eyes

Agreed, on step 3 it really depends where you are. I lived in one place where the SO allowed people to make short, emergency, communications to the SO dispatch on their frequency. I am aware that other places will charge a person with a crime for doing the same thing.

And now I'm wondering if John McClane ever got reported for his FCC violation in LA on Christmas, 1988.
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"Section 97.101(d) prohibits ALL amateur licensees from causing harmful interference, and does not provide ANY exception for interference caused to other amateurs whom the interferer believes have violated a Commission rule." - DA 16-877 at 17
AF7JA
Member

Posts: 285




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2016, 11:37:34 AM »

No need to worry!  Crooks today will probably be using CBs, since they figure no self respecting Ham would ever be monitoring it!!   Roll Eyes

Agreed, on step 3 it really depends where you are. I lived in one place where the SO allowed people to make short, emergency, communications to the SO dispatch on their frequency. I am aware that other places will charge a person with a crime for doing the same thing.

And now I'm wondering if John McClane ever got reported for his FCC violation in LA on Christmas, 1988.


I actually googled that to find out what you were talking about. No, that was not the incident I was thinking of.

I was thinking of an incident that happened, I think in the 90's where a ham having failed to contact the SO. . . I think it was somewhere in Colorado, again, this was a while ago. .. contacted them on their frequency. As I recall, they responded to the emergency, then he was cited for interference with official communications.

At the same time, I happened to be in the dispatch room at a Northern California SO and I happened to hear a ham cal the SO, he did it right, he gave call-sign followed by SO, like this "XX6XXX, SO." they replied with "XX6XXX go ahead" he then reported a brush fire he was looking at. Dispatch then said "XX6XXX So clear" to end the conversation.

I paid particular attention because I was curious how they would respond to a ham on their frequency. They acted like it was a total non-event.
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KA0SBL
Member

Posts: 72




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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2016, 12:19:18 PM »

Regarding using any means of communications available, see Title 47 Part 97 Subpart E Providing Emergency Communications:

§97.403   Safety of life and protection of property.

(a) No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radio communication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.

§97.405   Station in distress.

(a) No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station in distress of any means at its disposal to attract
attention, make known its condition and location, and obtain assistance.

(b) No provision of these rules prevents the use by a station, in the exceptional circumstances described in paragraph (a) of t
his section, of any means of radio communications at its disposal to assist a station in distress.


Here's a link to the entire document:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/FCC%20Documents/47%20CFR%20Part%2097%20-%20September%2023%202014.pdf


State and local laws may vary and be in conflict with federal law. Gee, in what other situation does that happen? (Need a hint? A few responders in this thread appear to be smoking it).


 Tongue


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SWMAN
Member

Posts: 1349




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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2016, 12:38:37 PM »

 About 10 years ago I over heard my neighbor across the street who was a drug dealer talking to someone about robbing a local bank.  I heard it on my scanner. He gave the location and exactly what they were going to do and how they were going to do it and when. I called the police in that town and told them what I heard and how I heard it. They never asked about the scanner or anything at all they just said thanks for the info. The robbery that day never happened. I guess they must have went there and sat in their car and scared the robbers away. They never spoke about it on the phone again.
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