Tuesday 25/06/2002Oh, dear oh dear oh dear. The Today programme goes to town on the evil of radio scanners.

Tuesday 25/06/2002

Oh, dear oh dear oh dear. The Today programme goes to town on the evil of radio scanners. One of their journalists presumably found the ScanpromaUK discussion group on Yahoo!, spotted that thousands of frequencies detailed there contained some used by the security services, and persuaded Paul Hey, the guy behind the group, to come in ostensibly to help on a feature about radio. They recorded him doing his radio thing, and then turned it into a shock horror news story. "These scanners should be banned," said unidentified security sources. "Terrorists might use the information to help them commit their evil crimes."

Well, balderdash. It's already illegal to listen to anything in this country except licensed broadcasters and radio hams -- you're breaking the law if you listen to aircraft, pirate radio or the weather stations on shortwave -- and if the might of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 (as amended) isn't enough to stop the terrorists then I doubt making the scanners illegal would make a ha'pporth of difference. Likewise, the information on the Web site has been available in books, newsletters and on bulletin boards for at least the 20 years I've been a radio ham -- and, incidentally, using scanners to make sure I don't transmit in places I shouldn't, as required by my licence. And even if scanners were banned, you can make radios that tune into any frequency you like in a couple of hours from any other radios, if you know what you're doing.

It's all sensationalist, badly researched and utterly out-of-context reporting. I emailed the programme -- I've been a contributor a few times, so I did hope that might count for something -- but nobody there seems interested in any of the above.

Gah. Bloody journalists.