Tuesday, November 29, 2011

RadioReference Dukes It Out With Canadian Government

Dangerous bills are passing on a fast track in Canada that are similar to those already signed into law in the United States when it comes to Federal Government powers to snoop on internet users. See the link here for more (OpenMedia.ca).

On October 7th, 2011, Lindsay Blanton (Owner and President of RadioReference) received a letter from the York Regional Police (PDF File) stating their unhappy position regarding RadioReference hosting on-line radio feeds of their Department's police radio communications system. The York Regional Police have encountered a problem though: RadioReference is not based in Canada and only offers the feeds, RR does not divulge the contents of radio transmissions. In this context, RadioReference is not bound to Canadian laws.

On October 8th, 2011, Blanton and his legal team fired off this response to the York Regional Police (PDF File). In Canada, it is not illegal for citizens to listen to radio transmissions and many of those who usually do have a radio hobby in Canada are law abiding people. Radio hobbyists in Canada are a mix of folks ranging from licensed radio amateurs to volunteer Public Safety personnel, paid and citizen members of the media, and even your run of the mill citizen who have their own lawful reasons for radio monitoring.

The discussion of this topic at RadioReference can be found here. The issue of cell phone apps for radio monitoring and website feeds dedicated to radio transmissions has become a hot topic world wide. The context and content of these radio feeds vary across the board. Not every feed and cell app is dedicated to things like police, fire, and medical radio. Cellular apps and website feeds at RadioReference and other sites feature other useful, fun items such as Air Traffic Control, Railroad, Maritime radio, Amateur (Ham) Radio, Shortwave Broadcast, and High Frequency SSB listening.

High Frequency (HF) SSB listening covers radio operations / systems focus on a wide range of radio services like civilian air traffic, military operations dedicated to air traffic, naval, army, and other military communications, weather satellites (WEFAX), space communications, and land mobile radio services to name just a few. The main concern of governments is the response of the main stream media and terrorism whether real or imagined. In the process of attempting to deal with these problems, governments at different levels are opting for full time encryption and also upon their over - interpretation of laws concerning the receiving and divulging of radio communications. In the end, innocent citizens and ethical journalists are being shut out of legitimate news.

Don't expect this legal and political fight to end anytime soon as the law in many countries attempts to catch up to modern technology. Is it possible that radio restrictions could take place as they did in World War 2? Will governments go so far as to make an effort to confiscate radio equipment from innocent citizens and journalists? Will the Anonymous organization take an interest in this and take their own brand of action? Only time will tell. 

Shortwave America and PCJ Media wishes to express their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Constable Garrett Styles of the York Regional Police Department in Canada.

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