All you radio scanner freaks

All you radio scanner freaks out there: beware! Your kind ain’t welcome in the Queen’s Kingdom.

BBC news reports:

The safety of the Royal Family and top politicians is at risk because classified security details are being published on the internet, it has been revealed.

Radio scanning enthusiast Paul Wey is intercepting Special Branch and other communications and publishing their details on internet news groups, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has learned.

Apparently, Wey has a scanner and has found some of the interesting frequencies used by police and emergency services in Britain, and is publishing information on them on the Internet.

The gov’ment doesn’t take to kindly to this:

An intelligence source said Mr Wey was a “menace”, whose actions could help terrorists commit atrocities and may have already been used to counter police operations.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said the government must consider banning radio scanners, which are currently illegal to use but not to own…

The intelligence source said Mr Wey and his website were “a severe danger to the public and to national security”. ..The source called for the site to be closed down, as well as for scanners to be made illegal. She said: “They can only be used for illegal activity. It’s similar to saying to somebody: ‘It’s OK to have a gun, as long as you don’t put bullets in it’.”

Hmmmm.

Point The First: Ms Unnamed Intelligence Source may want to rethink her classification of dangers to public and national security. I would submit to her that the danger to public and national security is that the Special Branch is using open frequencies to transmit sensitive information. Mr. Wey makes this point himself: “Mr Wey suggested that his activities could prompt the authorities to take better care of security – for instance by ensuring that Special Branch’s radio equipment was updated as it should be.” Well, uh, yeah.

Point The Second: Scanners can only be used for illegal activity, you say? Well, tell that to the good folks over at Pinecam.com, and the many citizens of Colorado who are reading Pinecam’s summaries of emergency service scanner transmissions to stay informed of the Hayman Fire’s progress, and now, are even listening into those same scanner transmissions via a dedicated RealAudio stream.

You may conclude that Pinecam’s zeal to inform the Colorado public is — well, overzealous — but I don’t think anyone for a second would accuse them of any nefarious intent.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a link to Mr. Wey’s site on the BBC site, don’t bother — it’s not there. Apparently he’s got some deep-linking policy that prohibits anyone linking to his site without prior written permission…no, wait, I’m confusing him with someone else