Now Cantennas Are Illegal Too? Why Don't They Just Outlaw WiFi?

from the says-who-exactly? dept

Is it really so much to ask to have people who are making and enforcing laws concerning technology actually understand the technology they're dealing with? Following the series of recent arrests of people for using open WiFi networks, the definition of illegal equipment is being stretched. In the UK arrest, the guy was arrested for "possessing equipment for fraudulent use of a communications service," which all of us who have WiFi in our laptops probably are guilty of. At least that's just in the UK. Over here in the US it's apparently still legal to have WiFi equipment -- but if you dare try to boost your signal with an antenna, watch out. According to the head of the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force, the popular "cantenna" device is completely illegal. For those who don't know, someone a while back worked out that you could boost the range of your WiFi router with a Pringle's can. It requires a bit of work, so a small operation sprung up to sell Cantennas. They're quite popular with people who want to spread WiFi around a house where the basic router won't reach certain parts of it. Hell, even CompUSA sells them! But, according to this "high tech" police officer: "They're unsophisticated but reliable, and it's illegal to possess them." The article includes a story about how the police arrested a high school student for breaking into his school's network to change his grades and they (gasp!) found a cantenna in his room! Again, the crime he committed has nothing to do with having an antenna booster, but that doesn't stop the reporter and the cop from talking about the evils of connecting to WiFi networks.

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  1. identicon
    Lanzaa, 25 Jul 2005 @ 8:13pm

    Re: Part 15

    [Code of Federal Regulations]
    [Title 47, Volume 1]
    [Revised as of October 1, 2004]
    From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
    [CITE: 47CFR15.23]

    [Page 758]

    TITLE 47--TELECOMMUNICATION

    CHAPTER I--FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

    PART 15_RADIO FREQUENCY DEVICES--Table of Contents

    Subpart A_General

    Sec. 15.23 Home-built devices.

    (a) Equipment authorization is not required for devices that are not
    marketed, are not constructed from a kit, and are built in quantities of
    five or less for personal use.
    (b) It is recognized that the individual builder of home-built
    equipment may not possess the means to perform the measurements for
    determining compliance with the regulations. In this case, the builder
    is expected to employ good engineering practices to meet the specified
    technical standards to the greatest extent practicable. The provisions
    of Sec. 15.5 apply to this equipment.

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