Legal and moral issues

Dec 16, 2016

RTL-SDR dongles, and other software defined radios can get you into all sorts of trouble.
Lack of common sense, irresponsibility and plain stupidity shines through from some users, so I won't sugarcoat this post, and occasionally use language, which I hope will be understandable to idiots with more teeth than IQ.

Check local laws

Receiving certain frequencies, or even being in possession of a radio receiver capable of receiving government talk can get you prison time in certain countries. Or get you executed.
If you think the powers to be would react to your presence protesting against the head of state with a volley of fire, do not carry any receiver. This is not an issue in any 1st world country, but if the verb "explain" comes up, don't take any chances. In North Korea, a portable shortwave receiver is reportedly a capital offense, so imagine pliers, fingernails and no embassy protection.

Don't transmit

Certain software defined radios or solutions, e.g. HackRF or a Raspberry Pi, can transmit radio waves, an activity which can cause trouble.
I'm strongly against transmitting, unless you are 100% knowing what you do, licensed, and use equipment suitable for the task. No exceptions.
Using a Raspberry Pi with PiFM is stupidity on the n-th. If you want an FM transmitter, buy one.
Farting into the airwaves will not make you a better man, just because you can. Any retard can buy a transceiver, and mess up someone's day. This paragraph is applicable to many handheld transceiver users, who freely chat away on undesignated frequencies.
If you must, please use licence-free frequencies and minimum power. Pumping 5W into the air to talk to your buddy in front of you on the motorway is unnecessary.

Don't go near any emergency services

Feel like a hacker? Want to feel powerful and strong? Shout "Fuck the police" into a cheap transceiver? Only your retarded friends will think as you do, you won't be a "hacker" even if you've seen the movie, or played with Watch Dogs.
Real hackers are computer experts who help people by exposing weaknesses in software, to the benefit of everyone.
If you're 16, going against the grain holds a certain appeal, this is called being a teenager and hating your parents, the world, and the blonde you asked out who said no. Vent your excess testosterone by other means, but not with radio. Finding a nymphomaniac virgin helps, be assured that all your female classmates are as horny and frustrated as you are. Page-by-page Kama Sutra is more fun than radio.
Feel free to object the system, just not on radio frequencies. Remember Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and countless other lighthouses in human society who decided to raise their voice in a non-threatening manner.
Service personnel are simple, working class guys and ladies, whose job is to make sure everyone can live in peace and receive help when they need it. Contrary to popular belief, even the police is not out there to make your life miserable, because they simple have no time, they have to deal with scumbags and criminals and rapists. If the shit hits the fan, you'll call them, and rely on them, so please don't interfere with their work. (The same goes for firefighters, paramedics, and any other emergency services.)
If you want to feel powerful and on top of the world, volunteer to help others in your local community. Be a real man, help people in wheelchairs, give an elbow to an old lady to cross the street. Doing good feels so much better than being an asshole.

Leave airplanes alone

I am an airplane enthusiast, who loves watching, listening to, and tracking aircraft.
Note the two words: listening and tracking.
If you deliberately mess with anything that flies, you deserve to be shot. Simple as that. You're fucking with other people's lives, and not just people on the plane: they got wives, husbands, sons and daughters.
Interfering with ADS-B or airband is a criminal offence all around the world. Giving the impression of interference, for whatever reason, can land you in a holding cell, because local cops have an entirely understandable "not on my watch" attitude.
Constable John or Jane sees someone with antennas, a laptop with complicated-looking software, and s/he will take action. Rightly or wrongly, law enforcement will err on the safe side, and know that an innocent has been shot in the head after the London terrorist attacks for not responding to a policeman's command.
Don't fuck with the law. If you don't know the land's law, then don't do something which might get you into trouble. Use common sense. Not for me, or others, but for yourself.
"Maybe" or "possily" could mean tears. Your tears, because "claiming" and "Ï was only..." won't save your ass, and I mean this sentence literally.
At airports, if you want to listen to incoming or outbound planes, it's safest to ask the local police for permission. Opening the conversation with "officer" and saying that you're an aircraft spotter goes a long way. This mainly works in countries where English is a mother tongue, but "No" means "No" everywhere in the world.

Digital decoding

Why? A computer challenge, not a radio signal reception challenge.
Baby monitors also use digital encoding, so I don't feature, and never will, guides regarding digital decoding on this blog, as information could end up in the wrong hands. Digital decoding is big in the States, where it's legal, in Europe, TETRA is all encoded and illegal to listen to in most countries.
Please refrain from asking for Tetra frequencies, if you're stupid enough not to find a control channel or use google, you shouldn't be playing with fire in the first place.

Just enjoy yourself

To sum up, no-nos are:
- breaking the law,
- transmitting without licence,
- emergency services,
- anything to do with airplanes.
If what you do doesn't feel right, please don't do it. You might be endangering your freedom and/or other people's wellbeing or life.

1 comment:

  1. Totally Agree. I read entire post line by line, word by word and can't find anything to disagree. Receiving information over air is fan, sharing those with others might not. Transmission without knowing what you are doing is BIG NO NO, never even 'try' to transmit anything whatever less the power is. Transmission needs a lot of understanding, specially responsibility. Don't place yourself on stupid list who thinks non traceable transmission is possible.... :))

    By the way, all above writings are for readers, not for writers of above post..