The lines have become somewhat blurred over the years as to what transmissions on a radio scanner you can listen to while staying firmly on the right side of the law. This changes from country to country with a good example of this being how the USA and the UK law is totally different in the way it treats eavesdropping on the police and EMS services.
Mainstream use of scanners at sports events like NASCAR have giving them a more legitimate use in recent years with organizers actively promoting the frequencies used by drivers as a way of enhancing the overall track day experience.
This has become a hot potato as people try to ensure some protection of sensitive information in the face of the relentless always connected world we live in. Judging what is sensitive can be problematic as every bodies priorities are different and with information turning into a valuable commodity even the seemingly innocent bits of data are worth something to somebody.
Acting On Details Heard On A Scanner
Keeping much of what you do with scanners to yourself or at least those close friends doing the same is a wise choice. Imagine the consequences of passing on something you learn and having that information used to harm or commit a crime?.
We all now the potential a radio scanner has to be used in criminal activities and for some users its the main purpose for owning one. This use as just another tool by criminals has left a stigma surrounding radio scanners, especially for those who only hear about the bad things their used for from the mainstream media.
Unlike using a transmitter illegally where its easily spotted if your using too much power or operating out of band, scanners are all but impossible to track. Breaking the law with a scanner can go totally unnoticed unless your very unlucky or too open about your hobby in all the wrong places.
The people with the power to enforce any kind of action against you and have the required skill set to determine if your using a scanner illegally is small. This makes nothing short of getting arrested with the scanner or receiving a visit from one of the many organizations who police the airwaves around the world about the only ways of getting caught.
Limiting The Risk
Of course one sure fire way of not getting caught using scanners illegally is to not do at all but if you deem it part of the hobby and you don’t do anything with the information then reducing the visibility of your listening can go a long way to avoiding a knock at the door.
Interference comes from so many sources in today’s modern world and people are always looking for the most obvious source. It doesn’t matter that the stack of antennas mounted on the outside of your house are for receiving only, the moment someone nearby gets their favorite TV programs interrupted you can be pretty sure they’ll be looking at you as the source.