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Are Police Scanners Illegal
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Are Police Scanners Illegal

Are police scanners legal for me to use and listen to

Many first time scanner enthusiasts are often worried that listening to a police scanner may be illegal to operate. Some states do prohibit the use of a scanner in a motor vehicle at this time, but it is not illegal to listen to police and fire as long as you are not doing so to engage in criminal activity or to relay information that you hear. it is not legal to listen to encrypted messages as well.

Scanner enthusiasts have enjoyed listening to them for many years, with laws in effect that date back to 1944 when Los Angeles county passed an anti scanner law that prohibited the use of a scanner. The law has since then been amended, most recently in 1983.

When the Boston bombings were happening the live scanner feeds that came up online were staggering. Many people were sharing the information that they heard live and streaming it over the internet. As people started tweeting and sharing information through social networks the media was caught up in the frenzy and started passing on what they heard as well, oftentimes misinforming their audience. It added to the chaos as different agencies hunted for the attackers. Streaming a live scanner feed over the internet is a gray area at this time, although it would seem to fall under the category of sharing information heard.

If you plan on traveling be sure to check local and state laws for the states that you will be going through along the way to keep yourself out of trouble as well. Although most states do not prohibit the use of mobile scanners some counties still do. If you are stopped you may find yourself in trouble. This also includes hand held scanners while in your vehicle.

Although you can listen in on your local police and fire departments online, it is much more rewarding to hear it on your own personal scanner. Now with the new technology that is available most modern scanners are PC programmable as well, making it easier than ever to program in all your favorite local frequencies. Some modern scanners come with a programmed frequency database, so all you have to do is enter your zip code and you can start listening right away without having to program everything in by hand or computer.

So at this point in time it is still legal for you to listen in on your local and state police departments as well as any fire and rescue communications. You can carry a hand held scanner with you to keep up to date on current events. Any communications that are happening that are NOT encrypted are free to listen to as long as you are not passing that information along and obstructing justice.

Scanners can be a very rewarding hobby and keep you and your family safe with the latest weather updates and police activity. Using and listening to a police scanner does not make you a criminal.

Street Talk

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