From: "M. Davis" <>
Subject: SK Bill Cheek (1950-2000)
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 16:39:13 GMT

Radio Scanning Engineer and contributor
to the hobby, Bill Cheek, has passed away.

Our condolences to his family, his friends and associates.

His kind mannerism and technical savvy will
truly be be missed.

Hey Bill! What freq's does St Peter
use at the Pearly Gates ? - thanks Bill we miss ya!)

Bill Cheeks' Web Page

San Diego Reader story #1
San Diego Reader story #2
Federal investigators said Knipschild used an illegal electronic device to intercept police communications. In a related case, the Secret Service have arrested a San Diego couple, Bill and Cindy Cheek, on a New York warrant charging they sold such illegal devices on the Internet to intercept police communications. The Secret Service said one of its undercover agents purchased a device from the Cheeks, who shipped it to New York.

Letter #1 from Bill Cheek

To my friends, associates, and well-wishers:

     Please forgive this form-response. So much e-mail has poured in that I can't possibly answer it all. I think it's better to offer
     some kind of an explanation than to just keep silent. You are receiving a "blind carbon copy" so that no one knows who is on
     my mail list.

     Since our case is pending and there are any number of possible outcomes, I think it best for now to stick to the facts. Here they

     At about 7:00am on Wednesday, March 31, 1999, Cindy and I were enjoying our first cup of coffee of the day when there came
     a loud banging on the door. We supposed it to be an early morning overnight FedX or UPS delivery, so I answered the door.

     A badge was shoved in my face with the announcement that there was a warrant for Cindy's and my arrests, and for a search of
     the premises. I stepped back and a dozen (or so) armed agents from the US Secret Service, FBI, Customs, Postal Inspectors,
     and even a local cop or two charged in.

     I was handcuffed and put on the couch. Cindy groggily wandered into the area wondering what the commotion was all about, and
     was handcuffed.

     I have to leave out a lot of details for the sake of time and brevity, but the next two hours were a typical TV-style search &
     seizure situation. Then we were hauled off to be fingerprinted and jailed.

     That afternoon we were hauled into US District Court; given public defenders; and released on bail. We didn't actually get out
     of the slammer until about 9:30pm that evening. We have to appear back in court on April 13 for an "identity" and "removal"

     We got home to find ten computers disconnected and gone; along with most of our business records; and a host of other stuff.

     The worst could be yet to come......

     Our arrest warrant was issued by a US Magistrate judge in Brooklyn, New York. The warrant specifically addresses a simple
     "data slicer", to wit (exact quote - misspellings are theirs; not mine):

          US Code Title 18, Sec 2512(1)(a) and 371
          "conspiring to send in intrestate commerce devices
          having reason to know that the design of such device
          renders it primarily useful for the purpose of the
          surreptitious interception of electronic communications,
          to wit: Mobile Data Terminal information broadcast by
          law enforcement agencies and emergency service

     I will leave it to you to interpret those charges, but as written, I can't imagine why companies like Optoelectronics and MFJ
     Enterprises weren't raided, too. They and dozens of others sell the same "device".

     In any event, the matter worsens. Since the warrant was issued by a judge in the Eastern District, Cindy and I apparently have
     to be tried there. It doesn't matter that we can't afford to travel to and fro, coast-to-coast; and that we have no peers in New York
     (I've never set foot in the state of New York and have no peers there.....)

     The fact is....we'll have to go to New York for the indictment hearing and for the trial, should it go that far. That's the bleak
     side of it; that coupled with the fact that we can't afford the travel nor to hire competent attorneys who are skilled in electronic
     communications law.

     On the lighter side: over the days since our arrest, all of our computers have been returned to us, along with copies of most of
     our business records. We should get 90% of everything back by this coming week.

     I know almost nothing else at this point; at least nothing else that I am free to discuss. I can say that Cindy and I did not
     knowingly break any laws...and at this stage, I'm not sure that we unknowingly broke any, either. At best, I think "they got the
     wrong man (and woman)", and at worst, they got a very tiny fish in a great big puddle.

     I appreciate all the offers of help, though I can't suggest where help is needed most yet. I guess if the case goes to trial, it would
     be most helpful to have attorneys who are skilled in communications law. But that is far out of our reach and unless our
     financial picture changes, we'll have to accept the services of New York public defenders.

     Knowing that, if you know any attorneys who might be interested in this case, I guess we'd appreciate your mentioning it to
     them. Frankly, Cindy and I are rather demoralized and beaten down by this massive disruption in our lives, and it's probable
     that we don't know the best course of action to take.

     Therefore, your suggestions and referral of our plight to others who might be qualified to know what's best, will certainly be
     appreciated by us.

     I'll let you know more as we know more, if you remain interested. Thanks for your care and concern thus far.

     Kindest regards,

     Bill & Cindy Cheek

Letter #2 from Bill Cheek

To my friends, associates, and well-wishers:

     Again, this is a form letter because it isn't possible for me to personally reply to every e-mail right now. I DO READ EACH
     ONE, however!

     The flood of support is, to put it mildly, overwhelming. At the very least, I owe you an update of the facts of the case as
     developments evolve.

     If you do not want to receive these periodic infograms, let me know and I'll remove your address from my mail list.

     Yesterday, Cindy and I had a hearing before a US Magistrate in District Court. Basically very little happened.

     We got a continuance of the formal "identity" and "removal" hearing until May 18. We petitioned the judge to expand the
     limits of our "bail" bond to allow us to travel for business purposes.

     There was no opposition from the US attorney (a good sign?) so the judge signed the order. At least we are free to make a
     living, such as it is......

     So far, so good. On May 18, if nothing happens between now and then, Cindy and I will return to court where the case will
     almost certainly be remanded back to New York.

     Between now and then, it is probable that we will have to travel to New York to meet with the US attorney. There is, however, a
     chance that the New York US attorney will come out here to San Diego to interview us, instead. THAT would be great, but
     nothing is certain at this time.

     There has been a literal flood of heart-warming support from out and around the world! Not just moral support....but loads of
     great suggestions, cool information, referrals, and advice. I am going to act or follow-up on a lot of it, believe me.

     One powerful admonition from many sources is that we will be dumb to reply on public defenders to handle our case.
     Unilaterally, we are told to retain an expert attorney, even if it means going into hock. I guess I can agree, except I don't know
     how to extract blood from turnips and/or turn lead into gold.

     A solid defense will require $100,000 or so. We can't swing it. Two words: IM POSSIBLE.

     So....our only hopes for expert counsel are: (1) pro-bono, or (2) a fund raiser.

     Lots of donations have been offered, but I don't think that's the way to approach it.... it would take a hell of a lot of
     administration to manage thousands of $5 and $10 donations, assuming that many are possible.

     A "Pro-bono" lawyer remains a viable prospect since the things Cindy and I are charged with loom as a major impact to the
     entire realm of radio. While she and I are the current "victims" of the government's charges, the bigger picture victimizes all
     of Hobby Radio, and perhaps other areas of radio and electronic communications as well.

     Therefore, a "pro-bono" lawyer or a professional fund raising effort appear to be the best. I will explore these soon, but I still
     need outside input and direction because I'm kind of inept on the legal and funding scenes.

     The kicker right now is that I can't devote much attention to either of these issues because of a major computer consulting
     project that will take me away from home and office for the next seven days. Talk about a rock and a hard spot.

     A man's got to make a living...but as he works his butt off, there's no time to devote to saving his skin. I will, however, be able to
     give more attention to our plight after April 20.

     Please don't give up on me if you don't hear from me before then. And you probably won't....

     Again, I can't give much in the way of inside information because it is so volatile to the case. I will say that our hopes remain
     high for a dropping of the charges. Sources tell me that Cindy and I aren't WHO they thought we were, and that the "evidence"
     is not at all what they thought would be found.

     This is why I am not talking to the media yet. If this matter is mostly a mistake by the New York federal judicial system, I sure
     as heck don't want to aggravate them by saying any more than necessary.

     One more thing to add.....nine of our ten seized computers have been returned, along with copies of most of our business
     records. The Secret Service still holds one old laptop computer, all of our floppy disks; a PRO-2006 scanner, and a
     miscellaneous hodgepodge of circuits, publications, records, and such. I figure it rather remarkable that we've gotten back so
     much as it is. This alone may suggest something about the case.

     Who ever heard of seized property being returned within days? (I've never know it to happen, anyway.) Does this mean
     something favorable to our case?

     I don't know. But I'll say more in due time. For now, I will be out of touch for a week or so. Please don't look ill upon me if I
     don't reply in the interim.

     Heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all!

     Bill & Cindy Cheek
     (Working stiffs)

Letter #3 from Bill Cheek

To our friends, associates, and well-wishers:

     I don't have much to report since the last update sent out on 4/14/99. I just got back from an extended business trip (thank the
     deities the Court allowed me to travel.)

     About all I know thus far is:

        1.Our court-appointed public defenders are fairly worthless. They know we will get NEW public defenders when we have
          to go to New York, so they're not interested in doing any more than necessary here in San Diego. Apparently the
          government won't pay their travel and accommodation expenses.....

          As a result, we have to play "musical attorneys".

        2.Apparently we have to "volunteer" to travel to New York at our own expense for a "questioning" session by the District
          Attorneys there. A date hasn't been set yet, but I am told it will be before May 18, when our next hearing in San Diego is

          If we don't volunteer to travel for this non-legal event, I am told we'll just be handcuffed and dragged up there for
          arraignment and probably jailed until the trial. I may have overstated this a little, but apparently a good faith effort on
          our part will go a long way to establishing our credibility and community standing. Soooo, we volunteer, I guess.

     Thanks to all those who have offered referrals, advice, and tips. For Pete's Sake, we've even been offered accommodations in or
     near Brooklyn where we'll have to first go for the questioning. I don't know that we'll be able to take advantage of that
     yet.....locations/travel/etc possibly being obstacles....

     I would appreciate continued tips and clues on CHEAP lodging and air travel to Brooklyn, and as usual, any referrals and tips
     on communications attorneys who might be willing to work "pro bono" for a greater Cause.

     At the very least, it would be nice if Cindy and I could be represented by competent counsel at the coming "questioning"
     session.... but so far, I'm clueless on how to proceed..... and can't afford the heavy hitters anyway.

     I think that's our primary need - good counsel. Now that I'm home from the business trip, I'll be dedicating some time to
     digging one up. But I clueless when it comes to attorneys - never needed one before......and dang sorry for needing one now.

     More later as developments happen.

     THANKS to all!

     Bill & Cindy Cheek

An appeal to Monitoring Times readers and friends of Bill Cheek:

Bill Cheek, editor of the "Experimenters Workshop" column in Monitoring Times and author of a series of books on scanner
     modifications was just diagnosed with incurable lung cancer at the end of September. If treatment is not begun aggressively and
     rapidly, doctors give him about 3-4 months.

     Bill says, "research on lung cancers is ever on-going ... My doctor said that even a year ago, my case would not have been
     treatable at all. Now they can offer me a 4-6 months extension." The problem is, Bill does not have medical insurance. He is
     self-employed at Comtronics and has two daughters in college. Furthermore, charges brought against him in a New York federal
     court last spring -- related to his scanner business -- are currently being heard before the Grand Jury.

     Bill intends to fight the cancer, but he could use your help. Bill welcomes your prayers on behalf of him and his family. If you
     have knowledge or feedback on the latest cancer research and developments, Bill would appreciate hearing from you.
     Expressions of concern are welcome, but he'll have little energy for personal replies.

     You can also help with your contributions. A trust fund has been set up by friends and family to which you may contribute
     toward medical expenses. Here are the details:

     Contributions for Bill Cheek can be made through Union Bank of CA. Checks can be made out to either:
     > Bill or Cindy Cheek
     > Cynthia Cheek trustee for William D. Cheek, Sr.

     Funds should be sent to:

     Union Bank of California
     Acct# 0771354719
     8359 Mira Mesa Blvd
     San Diego, CA 92126
     Attn: Rhonda or Kevin Smith (619) 230-3800


     Bill and Cindy Cheek
     PO Box 262478
     San Diego, CA 92196

     Though always a controversial figure, there is no disputing the fact that Bill has devoted his life to the love of radio and
     technology. We at Monitoring Times ask that you give this appeal the widest circulation among your radio friends. As fellow
     hobbyists, let's show our appreciation by giving generously.

Comments from Newsgroups

Subject: Re: Police Data bursts...can you read them?
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 18:28:47 GMT
From: (Sparky)

No, it is not ILLEGAL to decode MDT in the US. It is sent unencrypted
over the airwaves and is part and parcel of Public Service
Transmissions (aka the police work for us, the taxpayers).

What is illegal is to make what you hear (or see in this case) on a
scanner public.

In Bill Cheek's case he was unfairly prosecuted under the made-up
legal process of vicarious liability. Someone in New York took one of
his data slicer kits and then used it to decode MDT. The problem is
that this person also posted several day's reception of MDT to a web
site - which does violate the wording of the Federal Communications
Act of 1939.

Some Judge in NY got a bug up his butt that somehow enabling
technology is also illegal and issued an arrest warrant for Bill
Cheek. The judge was and is wrong. A data slicer has many uses,
and it's the person who uses it for good or bad who should be
blamed... A data slicer is nothing but a bunch of components that can
be bought for 9 bucks at Radio Shack...

This is akin to someone using a Camaro as a getaway car in a bank
robbery and then holding the Chevy Dealer and General Motors
responsible for the bank robbery. How about telephone scams where
people use the phone to commit felonies? Do we arrest the executives
of the phone company? Do we arrest the maker of the telephones
involved? Why not? The crime could not be committed if the phones
didn't exist. Same case where some cities tried to sue gun
manufacturers for the resulting Gun violence. Sheesh!

The easiest way to decode MDT is to use WinMDT, as it requires no
outboard hardware, other than a scanner with a baseband
(discriminator) tap and the ability to receive in the 800 Mhz band.
The decoding is done by a computer's soundcard.

So decode away. But don't blab what you see around town or post it to
the internet (which is illegal). And don't do something stupid like
show your mobile MDT decoder (in your car) to the local blue meanies
(That's the police, for you kids out there).



Subject: Re: Police Data bursts...can you read them?
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 00:12:13 GMT
From: Peter Maus <>

Which brings me to the real point of having posted the law as I
did. IF you read the words, and if you read the exemptions
carefully, you begin to see conflicts in the text. What is not
permitted often conflicts with the text of what is exempted. We're
not talking about Shakespeare, here, this is not poetry. This is
text of law. Legal text is specific till it draws blood, and
ambiguities are not part of that program. Any yet, reading clearly
and understanding the specifics taking the law in it's totality, you
read that it's not permitted to intercept any oral or electronic
communication, except as noted, and the notations are broad and
often vague.

Further, it's pretty clear that the thrust of this law is aimed at
Cell spectra and little else. And yet, Bill Cheek was prosecuted for
selling devices that specifically permit MDT decoding, as well as a
host of other and LEGAL uses.

Which brings me to my point. The purpose of the law is not
sufficiently clear. Language of the law, as written, permits
selective prosecution, and conviction, with punishment to be meted
out, or not, by, as you so very correctly pointed out, a court
test. Indicating that the law was writted to ameliorate the
concerns of CTIA, based on grossly misunderstood technology, while
seeming to open the door for prosecution of those who would monitor
and use the technology for criminal intent.

This is pretty much the definition of a 'feel good' law. A token
act, based on misrepresentation and fear mongering, with sufficient
ambiguities that the real legislation is to take place from the
bench, not the halls of Congress. It lets Congress off the hook for
the ignorance, and the curtailment of perceived civil rights, and it
allows judicial activism to sort out the results of their

And, as in most such cases, only the law abiding are penalized.

(Let's not forget that the major revision of the law was in
response to one of their own getting caught with his mouth open.)

Which then raised the question why was Bill Cheek arrested?

Under the specifics of the law, what he did was questionable at
best under the darkest possible circumstances. Under the specifics
of the law, what he did was perfectly legal in the realm of sale of
legally used and applied devices.

However, his vocal and often strident insistence in circumventing
the intent of the law protecting the interests of CTIA was very
difficult to ignore. Note that he was prosecuted for selling data
slicers used for decoding MDT, not his publication of cell
modifications for receivers blocked to cell spectra. Neither of
which, btw, are specifically illegal as the law is written. But they
are in conflict with FCC regulations, which are not codified into
the existing law.

The law was used to selectively prosecute him, in error, by the
way, waiting for the courts to sort out the arguments on either
side, and legislate a clear path for the direction of this law and
it's enforcement.

That Congress should pass such a law raises the questions about
whether they either know and understand how the law works, or their
education is as bad in civics as the rest of the current crop of
graduates. In either case, it is the courts who make sense of laws
that are both poorly written and ambiguously presented. The result
is that there is no specific protection of any right or activity
from baseless prosecution and conviction.

And that's how law works in this country today. It's not as simple
as a traffic ticket, where you break a known law, you receive a
clear punishment. Today, it's not clear what exactly the law is. And
Law Enforcement is more about 'sending messages' than it is about
enforcement of existing law. With the result that the punishment
becomes not what's meted out at the end of prosecution, but the
prosecution itself, and the fact that even if the defendent is
innocent, the prosecution never ends, until either the government,
or the defendent is drained of all resources. Or dies.

And still there is no clear definition of legal and illegal
activity for the citizen to accurately meter his behaviour by.
Meaning with little recourse or protection, one can be targeted for
prosecution under a law that does not specifically proscribe a
behaviour for which one is being prosecuted. Literally, prosecuted
to death.

How are such persons targeted? Pretty clear, they attract
attention to their behaviours, and become the focus of public
attention. Usually through media hammering of misinformation. Bill
Cheek's arrest coincidently followed a huge national media blitz at
both the network and the local level about scanner use, and criminal
abuse, with the thrust of the stories almost unanimously being that
only the criminal has, or uses a scanner. So, attention focussed on
everything said by anyone about the topic.

Make no mistake these newsgroups are read, monitored and absorbed
by both media muckrakers looking for their next big social injustice
story, and the government. And the open discourse here expressing
contempt for law, the outrage of regulation and the vocal statement
of intent to monitor, specifically cell spectra but more generally
'private' communications in general, attract the kind of attention
and prosecutorial lightning that struck Bill Cheek, and that the
ambiguities of the law, coupled with the massive distribution of
gross misinformation, permit.

And still there are more laws coming. Billy Tauzin will not rest
until we are limited to nothing but domestic broadcast in this
country. Why? Because so many have brought to his attention the open
discourse about what is monitored, and what WILL BE monitored. And
because commercial interests demand more of these feel good laws.

So what does this mean in practical terms?

Simple...when they wantcha, they gotcha. Baseless or not, they'll
drain you to bankruptcy to make their point. And there's not a trial
lawyer in the world who won't let them. Ask any trial lawyer what
you can do to protect yourself, and he'll say, "Well, you'll spend a
little money to protect your civil rights." What he doesn't tell you
is that even if you don't have the money, he's already spent it, and
that the one who determines how much YOU spend is the guy on the
OTHER side.

Further, they decide if they wantcha by the amount of time you
spend publicly telling the world that you intend to continue doing
what the law is unclear about, but the FCC has said you can't do.

So in very real terms, you may be right: It may not be illegal to
monitor MDT. But that doesn't mean they can't prosecute you for it.
They can.

Make no mistake. They can prosecute you for it. It may not stand
up in court....but by the time you're bankrupt, what difference does
that really make?

Realistically, he only way to protect yourself while continuing to
enjoy the hobbycraft that you love so much, is spend a little less
time shouting from the rooftops that they can't stop you.

You don't have to go underground, into hiding or live in the
shadows. You only have to be more discreet.

Because even if it's perfectly legal...they can still prosecute
you to death.

And the law is written just ambiguously enough, to permit that.

Subject: Re: Police Data bursts...can you read them?
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 00:50:10 GMT
From: (Sparky)

On Tue, 26 Jun 2001 00:12:13 GMT, Peter Maus
<> wrote:


> Because even if it's perfectly legal...they can still prosecute
>you to death.
> And the law is written just ambiguously enough, to permit that.

Agreed. But what is the best course of action. Roll over and play
dead? Allow more and more liberties to be chipped away?

Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not
have, nor do they deserve, either one. - Thomas Jefferson


Subject: Bill Cheek
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2000 03:05:05 GMT
From: "Jeffery A. Swan" <>

Please forgive my ignorance.  Even though I have been an RF engineer for
many years, an avid scanning hobbyist, and own all of Mr. Cheeks books I
just recently became aware of his situation with our federal government
(OK so I'm kind of an introvert).  After reading all of the information
I could find on the web and past news group postings I am quite
decidedly Pi**ed off.  The good, bad, and ugly have all been hashed out
here in the postings and I do not wish to relive that.  What I am
interested in is our freedom as citizens of the United States.

I find it quite ironic that  that even though our tax dollars fund the
FCC, a federal organization that is appointed NOT elected and is only
answerable to the president of the United States, governs our rights as
citizens.  They govern what we can and can not listen to on the
airwaves, what we can and can not send on the airwaves, and sell
sections of the airwaves to the highest bidders.  Now do not get me
wrong, I truly believe that we need a set of checks and balances on
something as powerful as that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum
upon which we send and receive information.  However, I would like to be
able to elect the officials that do such governing.  I will now step
down from my soap box and continue on with my intended post.

Knowledge is power and the only way to maintain our rights is to have
this knowledge.  I have worked for many of the "big" companies that
produce RF equipment including or own DOD.  Currently I own a small
engineering company which employs some of the best people I have ever
worked with and we have come to agree upon a course of action.  Over the
next few months (and probably indefinitely) we will be instituting a web
site with any and all information dealing with the reception of,
conversion of, and monitoring of our RF airwaves.  We will have links to
overseas software sites, PCB negatives for etching boards, and as much
tutorial information as you, the american citizen can ask for... all
free to those who wish to read it.  In the next couple of days I will
publish our new web address.  We would at this time like to solicit any
questions you may have and even a possible name for the site.  Quite
simply we want this to be the largest, single source of free information

I apologize for the length of this message but we wanted to get this out
to all of you.  And of course as always, the flame-throwers in the crowd
may now light their torches.

Kindest Regards,

The entire staff of
Spectrum Engineering Technologies

From: (Bert)
Subject:  Re: Bill Cheek
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 22:51:03 GMT

The big question in my mind is not of Bill's guilt or innocence, but who
owns the public airwaves?  Bill's right to do as he did should never been
questioned.  I don't understand why there hasn't been an outcry from the
public over this.

In the U.S. what the average person was allowed to listen to was anything
he desired.  This was considered a basic right of being a citizen.  This
was true until recent technologies fostered by commercial interests came on
the scene.  Access to radio spectrum and other personal freedoms have been
eroding away to Industry and Government ever since.

People buying the new Cell Phones(including congressmen, etc) were lied to
by the Cell Phone Industry.  The industry seeing laws had to be changed for
continued growth begin a campaign of lobbying(pocket stuffing) in
Washington unconcerned about the countries citizens personal freedoms, but
only profits.  Now the industry could say 'see this law, it's now illegal
for anyone to listen to your conversation just as it is for the phone in
your home'.  This seems to have started the ball rolling in stealing away
the publics rights to radio spectrum AND the publics rights to privacy.

The radio spectrum is ever since being sliced away from our access.  Look
at what's been happening to the Amateur radio and other bands.  The FCC
under instruction of Congress auctions portions off to commercial interests
like THEY own them!  Police agencies now don't want the public to be able
to monitor them, an important check is removed from the publics hands.  Are
the police a secret society or a public agency?  In some aspects, it's now
illegal to even TALK about cell phones!  There's now talk of banning
scanner radio's that can tune to police and other government frequencies
all together.

Those elected to represent us,(our basic rights and freedoms) have sold us
away to the greed of industry and power monger agencies in government.
What we as a people here in the U.S. are ALLOWED to OWN and USE is ever
shrinking away to the hands of Government and Industry as they take more
and more control over our personal freedoms.

Something I thought I would never see in America.... just as in Nazi
Germany of WWII, it's now illegal for a U.S. Citizen(but not the
Government) to own some radios and to listen to certain transmissions.
There are laws under consideration right now that will allow Government
agencies even more probing into our PRIVATE affairs.

Look at recent attempts at tracking OUR personal banking habits by the
Banking Industry, attempts at tracking OUR personal online movements by a
CPU maker, by a big OS/software company.  If not for a few non-profit
watchdog agencies they would have gotten away with it.  How many more slip
by undetected?  Unless you live permanently in the wild like a stone age
man, more and more commercial and government interests are tracking your
every move, delving ever deeper into and controlling your private life.

What's happened to Bill Cheek(one of the greatest innovators in hobby radio
listening) ought to be a wake-up call.

Big Brother, was it just an entertaining tail, or a prophesy coming to life
before our very eyes?

Regards, 73, Bert. OK, U.S.A.

Author:  JTWard01 <>
Subject:  Re: Bill Cheek
Date:  1999/08/22

 In all the discussion pro or con about Bill Cheek, one little problem has been overlooked.
 That is the government's apparent decision to consider MDT communications protected simply
 by virture of their being digitally transmitted. Not digitally encrypted, mind you, but plain old
 ASCII  digital. His arrest marked the first time I'd ever heard of the government taking that
 position, yet I can find nothing in the law that specifically prohibits monitoring MDT
 If the government's postion is allowed to prevail - that all digital communications are
 protected - then you can kiss goodbye any hope of ever having a scanner to monitor public
 safety voice communications that are digitally modulated.
 For all of Bill's faults and virtures (which have been debated here ad nauseum) his case has
 implications that may affect many of us in the future.

 John T. Ward
 Brandon, Florida

From: "Zombie Wolf" <>
Subject: Re: Why is Cheeks in the Pokey?
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1999 17:03:52 -0400

Well. I think that they are not about to leave us alone. Like I said, this
whole thing is really not about a piece of equipment that is legal anyway.
this entire thing is the Government "testing the waters", so to speak, just
to see what the people will put up with, in the way of their right to know
what their Government, the police, and various other agencies are doing,
being trampled upon. They want to see just what they can get away with.

Think about it. Why Bill Cheek ? It is obvious. He is far more visible and
vocal on the subject than any of use are. He is a tremendous source of
information and knowledge about scanners and scanning in general. He has a
web site , and he has written several tomes on the subject, which are
considered "Bibles" on the subject. To their minds, he must be silenced. The
flow of information must be stemmed, before they can have their little
"secret police state".  Nobody on this planet is more paranoid than the

Have we seen the goverment "decide" that something is ilegal before, without
any written law to back them up ? I don`t remember such an instance.  How
can someone be charged with a crime, when there is no written law that
states it IS a crime ? Remember, Bill did not post the MDT transcripts on
HIS web site. Bill did not decode those transmissions. it is currently NOT a
crime to sell 4 - level FSK decoders.(Or two - level decoders, either).
Texas Two - Way is STILL selling them, and nobody has "charged" them with a
crime !

The charge and specification says that he is charged with selling a "Data
Slicer", a device that has a primary use of decoding MDT tranmissions. There
are other "primary uses" for a data slicer, as Optoelectronics will tell you
right in their advertising, when describing the Optocom, a radio that
recently won type acceptance from their OWN FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS
COMMISSION, and was approved  for sale, right here in the USA !

Now, I am going to say it again, before 19 more people start screaming "But
this is all about the 4 - level slicer he was selling, not a 2 - level" !
The charges state clearly:"A Data Slicer". They do NOT say "A 4 - Level Data
Slicer", nor do they say " A 2 - Level Data Slicer".  They say, "A Data

How can this be ? HOW can the government prosecute this case, when it is NOT

How is it, that is suddenly becomes a crime, if I mention that they COULD be
used to illegally decode MDT transmissions ? ESPECIALLY if I inform you that

From: (MAlexder)
Subject: Re: Letter from Bill Cheek
Date: 14 Apr 1999 13:23:46 GMT

>From: "Phil Smalley" <

>If Bill's
>computers and records were considered evidence, he wouldn't get them back
>until after the trial.

That's exactly the point. Copying the drive and then returning it to Bill
would not be sufficient "evidence."

Any reasonable lawyer would quickly argue that the copy was incomplete or
tampered with in some other way.

>This means one of two things: Either the case against the Cheeks is
>due to insufficient evidence (which, by reading the warrant text as it was
>posted, I doubt) or this whole thing is a witch hunt and the gathering of
>"evidence" was simply a formality

You could also speculate that they are using the tactic to get him to stop
without ever really intending to go to trial. By simply starting a
prosecution, many accused peoplewould quickly back down because the financial burden of
a defense would be too great to resist.

In the Craig Neidorf case (who published supposed proprietary documents in
an hacker newsletter), the government dropped the case midway through the
trial. Neidorf, however, was stuck with $100,000 in legal bills.

From: "Phil Smalley" <>
Subject: Re: Letter from Bill Cheek
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 16:17:35 -0700

LF686 wrote in message <>...
>Hi Dave,
>You mention a "copy by regular means" however I would have to believe that
the secret service and FBI have access to equipment and methods to make a bit
by bit image of any drive.
Regardless though, for Bill to receive his computer equipment and records
back so quickly is unusual. I friend of mine is still waiting to receive his
stolen computer back after it was recovered almost two years ago. This is
because the computer is still evidence in the burglary case. If Bill's
computers and records were considered evidence, he wouldn't get them back
until after the trial.

This means one of two things: Either the case against the Cheeks is hopeless
due to insufficient evidence (which, by reading the warrant text as it was
posted, I doubt) or this whole thing is a witch hunt and the gathering of
"evidence" was simply a formality. There's no way to know until the trial
happens. Bill was supposed to be arraigned today, so maybe we'll hear back
from him an a couple of days.

Speaking of that warrant text, did that bother anyone else the same way it
bothered me? Here it is again:

US Code Title 18, Sec 2512(1)(a) and 371
  "conspiring to send in intrestate commerce devices
  having reason to know that the design of such device
  renders it primarily useful for the purpose of the
  surreptitious interception of electronic communications,
  to wit: Mobile Data Terminal information broadcast by
  law enforcement agencies and emergency service

Couldn't a radio scanner itself be classified under this wording? After all,
its' primary purpose is for the "surreptitious interception of electronic
communications" too, isn't it?

And again, there are other companies who sell decoder circuits. Would the
same have happened if Knipschild used the MFJ or Opto units instead? Does
the CEO of GM get subpoenaed everytime there is a drunk driving accident
involving a GM product? What happened to the responsibility of ones actions
being solely his/her own?

I think there's more to this whole thing. It's almost as if this entire
hobby is being singled out and eliminated, systematically out of fear of the
fact that we know too much. I may be paranoid (and after what has happened
in the last thirty days, I'd be a fool if I wasn't) but that's how I see it.

 You may be asking yourself "Why would the government have a cow over
someone posting MDT data on the web?" Those of us who have monitored such
systems know the answer. Because these agencies have been duped into
believing these channels are secure from snoopy scanner listeners, they
treat them like landlines and they put info up there that you wouldn't
believe. I've seen messages that would cause a national scandal in short
order, and we'll just leave it at that. Most agencies don't mind a casual
monitor here or there because they know we'll generally keep it to
ourselves. But then, when some fool puts that data on the web for all
(including idiot criminals who otherwise would never see such a thing in
their lives) to read, ohhh boy.....

 Recently, when I posted a message about a local agencies' MDT system, I got
a nice little "we're watching YOU too" kind of message. When I confronted
the author on it (I guarantee he did NOT expect that!) he denied any implied
threats or legal actions, but I know to this day that message was meant to
shut me up. This is the mentality Bill is up against now. Those MDT's are
damn near sacred in the eyes of their users and the law be damned when it
comes to protecting their precious little toys. Reminds me of ANOTHER very
popular communications device that people don't like to have
monitored....sound familiar??? ;-)

I see bad things coming on the horizon for people like us. Bad, bad

From: (JTWard01)
Subject: Cheek arrest details
Date: 9 Apr 1999 01:50:43 GMT


     I spoke with Agent Denise Gibson with the U.S. Secret Service today.
Agent Gibson is the media contact for the USSS's New York office.  She didn't have
many details, but the affadavit on which the arrest warrant was based said
that Bill & Cindy Cheek had violated the law by marketing a device, specifically
a digital data decoder, that could be used to illegally intercept police MDT
     Sorry, I don't have more info than that, and I know it still leaves a
lot of unanswered questions.  Agent Gibson promised to confer with the lead
agent on the case and get back to me tomorrow with more specifics, or to have that
agent call me directly.  When I know more, I will post more.

John T. Ward
Brandon, Florida
"If voting really mattered Congress would make it illegal."

From: "James" <>
Subject: Re: Letter from Bill Cheek
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 21:13:18 GMT

The Computer Forensics Dept of the State of Kansas now uses programs such
as Drive Image Pro and other forensic programs to take a complete image of
a hard drive.  These programs record the entire drive bit by bit.  That
image is acceptable in court just as is a photo from any crime scene.

From: (JTWard01)
Subject: Re: Bill Cheek Defense
Date: 9 Apr 1999 00:21:03 GMT

>what i fear is that the big companies can buy legislation through lobbying
>(ala cell fones aren't radios ?) and out law otherwise legal
>devices, instead of going after the illegal users.

Hmmm.  Maybe we can get the feds to arrest the CEOs of the cellphone
companies everytime a drug dealer uses a wireless phone to make a deal?  Sounds good
to me. "Tom Wheeler, we're from the government and we're here to help you."

John T. Ward
Brandon, Florida
"If voting really mattered Congress would make it illegal."

From: (JTWard01)
Subject: Re: Bill Cheek Defense
Date: 11 Apr 1999 20:41:58 GMT

>From: (Peter Maus)
>Date: 04-11-1999 15:05 EST
>.but the City of Chicago is suing gun manufacturers
>for street violence

     There is a difference here.  Now, I'm not arguing pro or con, the
argument against the handgun manufacturers is that they produce a product that is
inherently dangerous, even when used as designed.
     The data slicer has valid legal uses (one of which, I believe, is MDT
decoding, but obviously other opinions vary) yet they went after Cheek
because a customer could use it illegally.  A more direct comparison than the gun
manufacturers would be the auto industry.  Arresting Cheek because of what a
customer might/or did  do with one of his decoders is like arresting the
local car dealer because a customer bought a car, then drove while intoxicated.

John T. Ward
Brandon, Florida
"If voting really mattered Congress would make it illegal."

Re: Bill Cheek arrested
Author: Peter Maus <>
Date: 1999/04/04

>  I'm not aware of any current laws that make it illegal to sell or
>have a 4 level FSK decoder. This would be like arresting a gun dealer
>because one of his customers killed someone.

 Wake up....The City of Chicago is suing gun manufacturers for exactly this
reason, under the guise of marketing dangerous products in less than
responsible ways.   Its happening. Its an abuse of the system, to be sure, but
its happening.  AND with sanity all but gone from both the courts AND goverment
in general hiding behind this kind of disbelief is exactly what is needed for
these kinds of suits to become effective tools in the herding of the public
into lives of 'approved' activity, value and belief.

Re: Cheek's Bust?
Author: LF686 <>
Date: 1999/04/03

>Look folks, regardless of what you think of Bill Cheek personally, this
>has some pretty gruesome possibilities for many of us, particularly those who
>use computer controlled receivers, or those who like to monitor WEFAX and
>digital communications.

John and all,

I have done business with Bill for many years and sent him an email this
morning to see if he could clarify what is happening. I know there are several
people here who have personal disagreements with him, however he has
contirbuted much more to the radio hobby scene than any 10 people I can think

And you right that this has some real nasty implications. The FSK decoders he
is selling are useful for a great many things. In addition I don't recall
seeing a clear cut law stating that MDT decoding is illegal. Certainly the guy
who allegedly posted MDT excerpts on his web site wasn't real bright, and that
might indeed be a violation of the 1934 code.

I for one am tired of big money business and our bought and paid for government
trampling on our rights. If/when I hear from Bill I will post something here.
It is no lauging matter, if we don't start fighting for the things that are
important to us, this hobby for instance, they will continue to erode our

Larry Fowkes

Re: Bill Cheek arrested
Author: <>
Date: 1999/04/03

    I think Bill Cheek should have no problem (other than attorney
fees) defending this for the simple 4 Level FSK decoder that he sells
since it could be proven that it does have legitimate uses. As long as
he wasn't including MDT or pager decoder software.

  I'm not aware of any current laws that make it illegal to sell or
have a 4 level FSK decoder. This would be like arresting a gun dealer
because one of his customers killed someone.

  Secondly wouldn't the Secret Service come under the "authorized
users" code that allows them to buy things like cell unblocked
scanners, pager decoders, etc ?

On 3 Apr 1999 02:24:47 GMT, (JTWard01) wrote:

>   I want to know what it is the cops claim is illegal that he was selling.
>Could it be his computer interface?  If so, we've all got problems.
>John T. Ward
>Brandon, Florida

Re: Bill Cheek arrested
Author: MAlexder <>
Date: 1999/04/03

>>Local Sheriff but the SS? Why would it be these guys?

I took a quick look at the Treasury Dept./Secret Service web site. Apparently
in 1984 they were given additional responsibilities, including the mission of
investigating "federal interest computer crimes."

Parenthetically, that does not mean they only investigate crimes only involving
federally-owned computers. The 1984 computer fraud and abuse act defines a
federal interest computer as anyone that is networked across state lines, owned
and operated by someone who works or does work for the government, among other
things. It's a pretty broad definition.

Re: Is it illegal?
Author: Gerald Taylor <>
Date: 1999/04/13

The laws that govern monitoring radio reception of the type discussed here do
not make exceptions for any kind of "public service" uses.  It is illegal,
period.  The law just looks the other way until the SS chooses to play ruffian
with the Cheeks.  My guess is that all news agencies also monitor the MDT info.
We get closer and closer to 1984 every day, government behind curtains of
unwarranted secrecy will very quickly become tyrannical.  It happens every time.

Bill Cheek Defense
Author: Rick <>
Date: 1999/04/08

Hi everyone;

Just a few thoughts on what Bill (or anyone else in a similar position)
might do to defend themselves from criminal liability for what someone
else does with a product or information provided to them.

The text below comes from Bill's web site. It is the terms and
conditions for purchasing a 4-level decoder. As I read it, if someone
sends in an order for this product they are agreeing to the terms below
so if a consumer/secret service agent in New York state made a purchase
they are obligated to these terms. If they fail to comply with those
terms then they have breached their contract with the seller and can be
sued in civil court.

Supposing the worst case that Bill is prosecuted successfully then
theoretically he could sue the purchaser for his damages. Forget lost
wages, how much is your freedom worth? Of course I would much rather
see Bill win his case and have some sense of sanity restored to the laws
that govern this hobby and the communications industry in general.

TERMS & CONDITIONS:   All sales are final; no returns-no refunds. 30-day
Performance Warranty on fully Assembled/Tested units (with enclosure) is
strictly limited to selected software specified in the Instruction Set. Units should
work with most other applicable programs, but we just can't support other
people's software. Repair or replacement at our option during that 30-day period.
No warranty on unenclosed assembled/tested boards, and no warranty on Kits
or Instruction Sets.

Not responsible or liable for illegal use of this information and/or these products;
nor for any consequences thereof. You must determine lawfulness of the product
for your applications and region and not use them, if illegal.

Use of this information and/or product is 100% exclusively at your own risk.
You must determine suitability and fitness of purpose of these products to
your needs. I will not accept responsibility or liability for any damage or loss
that results from use of these products, nor for damage or loss that results from
connecting these devices to a scanner and/or a computer.

You must determine all risks and accept all consequences of any damage to
hardware and/or data stored in the computer.

Re: Letter from Bill Cheek
Author: Timmins <>
Date: 1999/04/12

MAlexder <> wrote in message
> Here's a list of potential resources from the EFF that I sent to Bill. I'm
> posting them here in case anyone has interest in looking into this
 >Massive clip to save bandwidth<

  Given the depth of feeling about the entire subject of Radio Censorship
that has beengrowing in this country since the ECPA was enacted in 1986 by
the Cellfone Industry, I am wondering if this case could be the beginnings
of a massive Class Action Lawsuit on behalf of All the Scanner listeners in
the Country, to try and put common sense back into the Communications Law,
and not let the country be the laughingstock of the world yet again.....

Bill, N3DDY

Re: Charges Against Cheek
Author: LF686 <>
Date: 1999/04/11

>But, Dunder, Head the Case is NOT over a 2 level Slicer. It is over a 4 Level
>Slicer and there is a VAST difference.
>IE, ONE works on MDT transmissions and the Other one Dosen't!!


A 2 level slicer will indeed work on some systems. And a 4 level slicer is
useful in many ways other than MDT decoding. My opinion would have to be that
neither is illegal, in fact I don't remember ever reading any statute which
made intercepting MDT transmissions illegal.

 However our government doesn't always play by the rules and small business men
like Bill or hobbyists like ourselves can see everything we worked for all our
lives evaporate at warp 10. Government agencies can and do trample citizens
rights pretty much as the mood strikes them. The actual written law in many
cases has no bearing....kind of scary isn't it ?


Re: Cheek bust - substantiation
Author: Zombie Wolf <>
Date: 1999/04/10

Tom Walker <> wrote in message
> SN> >Control Program does Encode it so it cannot be Decoded EXCEPT with
> SN> >Origional Program.

Bullmurkey, my boy. It is in plain ASCII, the same as any text file on your
hard disk. It does NOT have any "encryption" scheme" at all. The only
"software" needed to decode it is my trusty old KAM ascii interface (which ,
no doubt, they will try to outlaw next). It can also be "decoded" using the
FCC-approved data slicer that is built into my Optocom reciever,  and also
by software right through the sound card (guess they will have to ban those
sound cards, too ! I think those computer games and applications will be
kind of boring without a sound card !) They also better ban the sale of any
kind of linear op - amp IC, and also diodes and such, because people *might*
"misuse" them to build their OWN data slicer ! Yes sir, by the time they are
done, they will have set technology back 50 years ! Are YOU ready to go back
to tube technology ? The entire concept is ludicrous.

Re: Cheek bust - substantiation
Author: Zombie Wolf <>
Date: 1999/04/10

Ah, yes, blind faith in the "rightness" of the feds, and cops in general. I
don`t think that is the answer. I will say it again. Some of these MDT
systems only require a 2 - level slicer to decode them, one of which is
BUILT INTO the Optoelectronics Optocom, a radio which was recently TYPE
choosing to ignore this fact, in their zeal t bring down Bill Cheek, who is
simply unfortunate enough to be a bit more "visible" than the rest of us.
What they are trying to control here is not data slicers at all, but the
silence Cheek, because he had the audacity to tell it like it is !
Why should these government agencies be so paranoid ? What is it they are
trying to "protect" ? Their desire to create a "police state", in which the
type of radio you can have and what you can listen to is strictly
"controlled" ? This is what happens in places like Russia, and China , where
they want to control the people`s right to hear the TRUTH.

Re: What a jerk... (Bill Cheek Flamers)
Author: Shiva Nataraja <>
Date: 1999/04/07

On Tue, 06 Apr 1999 16:07:09 GMT, (Steve W.) wrote:

>On 6 Apr 1999 11:04:13 GMT, (TandKMoran) wrote:
>>I must say - I sure do feel sorry for Bill. Seems like a real bum rap from what
>>we know at this point.
>How do you figure?  Everyone is ASSUMING that a dataslicer is all he sold.
>This CAN'T be correct as there is absolutely nothing illegal about that.

In a sane world, this statement would be correct. However, this is the
United States Secret Service we're talking about here - the same USSS
that virtually destroyed Steve Jackson's game company by confiscating
all his computer equipment simply because he was making a role playing
game with a "Cyberpunk" theme.

Re: Cheek's Bust?
Author: Zombie Wolf <>
Date: 1999/04/06

Yup, that is the road we are headed down. In another 20 years, it will be
more like Russia than Russia was !

Bud (the original) <> wrote in message
> On Sun, 4 Apr 1999 13:09:16 -0700, "Glenn" <> wrote:
> >
> >Bill may be headed for some rough waters. As somebody posted earlier, his
> >web sites ad for the level converter states it can be used for MDT
> >monitoring.
> The Internet is MORE than the repressive U.S..
> I can see it now, before you can buy a car, a kitchen knife, or a ball of
> twine, you'll need to sign and have notarized a statement that you will
> NOT use the items for anything illegal, and the seller carries no
> responsibility for your actions after the sale.

Re: @How Will Cheek Profit From Bust?@
Author: Barry Adair <>
Date: 1999/04/05

Many years ago, I was with the sheriff dept. in a small NC county, the local
bootleggers, of moonshine, loved for us to bust them, they got there name
and address in the newspaper, so free advertising that they could not
normally get, many people will see this that did not know who Bill was, so
it will be advertising for him.
fallicon wrote in message ...
>x-no-archive: yes
>"OTIAE{ u6pyup(IU{}pfg
>When this blows over, and provided he isn't in the joint (a VERY real
>probability), how do you suppose Cheek will try to turn a profit on it?  A
>book,maybe? Guest appearances on Oprah and etc.?
>All suggestions welcome.....

Re: Legal defense fund for Cheek
Author: JTWard01 <>
Date: 1999/04/05


   Any defense fund should be set up as a non-interest bearing trust fund at a
commercial bank.  Donations would go to the bank, not to any individual. The
trust officer (an officer of the bank) would be empowered to disburse trust
funds when presented with a proper invoice from the law firm representing Bill
and Cindy in this matter.  Any funds remaining in the account at the end of the
legal proceedings (likely there would be none, but just in case) should be
desigated for donation to a charity (I don't care which - pick one.)
   By establishing the fund in this manner there would be no question as to its
legitimacy and no one, including the Cheeks, would profit from it, other than
the benefit they would derive from having some of their legal expenses paid.

John T. Ward
Brandon, Florida
"If voting really mattered Congress would make it illegal."

Re: Cheek, Jackson
Author: Shiva Nataraja <>
Date: 1999/04/08

On Wed, 07 Apr 1999 08:50:37 GMT, wrote:

>    Are details of the Jackson case on the web?

Sure, has lots of info on this. One example:

Re: Bill Cheek arrested
Author: TandKMoran <>
Date: 1999/04/08

>If you were really a cop as you said in a previous post, then you'd know that
this "password protection" is used for signon purposes from the cruiser. It has
nothing to do with monitoring the transmissions.

#1- I didn't say I was a "Cop" (what does that stand for - great trivia
question) or a Police Officer. I said I worked for the Police, I'm not sworn
(but sometimes at!) Hmmm, now think real hard, what would a radio geek such as
myself being doing working for the police??? (Could there be a way to turn this
hobby into a very legal career???)

#2- Are you sure about your second assumption - That because someone is a "cop"
they would know this? Most of our officers are shocked and amazed when it's
proven to them how easily their 4800 baud MDT's are read by people outside the
department. If anything, the sign-in process on the terminal adds to the false
sense of privacy on these systems, wouldn't you agree? Currently, I've heard
that our state's training for officers covers this fact, but it wasn't always
so. I don't know what other academys teach.

#3- Re-read the rest of my post. You express the point I was trying to make.
Clearly, the fact that someone at the scene advised the reporter that the
terminals are "password protected" was an attempt by the authorities to imply
that the system was somehow broken into, when you and I and everyone else here
knows better. The offense is in disclosing the information, not the reception
of the signal, nor the reading of the un-encrypted messages. I see you have
quoted me out of context.

From a technical standpoint, there's little difference between reading
un-encrypted MDT data signals and reading morse code signals. They are nothing
more than tones. People have been reading radio teletype signals off of
shortwave for more than 50 years.

Other folks have expressed concerns regarding the privacy of information being
disseminated on MDT's. The vast majority of these details are also broadcast in
the clear on voice channels. (Vehicle registrations, Driver's License info and
history, even Criminal History File data).

Both MDT data and voice traffic are protected from disclosure to third parties
by the Communications Act of 1934, there is no difference. It boils down to:
Dont tell other people the details of conversations that you monitor - it's
illegal. And frankly, if a department is using un-encrypted mobile data
terminals for critical, sensitive criminal investigations it's my opinion they
are using very poor judgement. The privacy of radio communications is a
responsibility that should lay entirely on the users and providers of the
circuit. Using a radio is like yelling out the window - why should you have an
expectation of privacy?

It's a matter of common sense - if you are worried about me, a casual hobbyist,
listening in or breaking your "encryption" (which is currently already illegal
and something I don't do) what do you think your target is doing??? I have very
little money and am motivated only by the entertainment value. They have
bunches of dough and are trying to stay out of jail. Stop making my hobby
illegal!!! Okay - I'll stop singing to the choir.

PS - No e-mail address??? Worried about your privacy? ;-)

Happy Scanning - Ted

Charges Against Cheek
Author: Tektot <>
Date: 1999/04/07

Read on:




Re: Bill Cheek arrested
Author: munsch <>
Date: 1999/04/02

It appears that the Cheek arrest is *unrelated* to the fine fellow on Long
Island.  The story says he sold *something* to a Secret Service buyer.  This
will be interesting.  I refer all to "The Hacker Crackdown" by Bruce
Sterling, which chronicles an earlier ill-advised Secret Service adventure
into something they were not prepared to understand, and still haven't
recovered from.
Crazy George

Re: Cheek's Bust?
Author: Peter Maus <>
Date: 1999/04/04

>>Look folks, regardless of what you think of Bill Cheek personally, this
>>has some pretty gruesome possibilities for many of us,

But the truth of John Ward's statement should not be lost.  There are some very
real and very gruesome possibilities ahead of each of  us involved in the
hobby.  Even those who are not involved in the gray areas of decryption.  We
are getting to the stage in this country of a presumption of guilt based on
what we own or what we say, or what we believe and how these things fit into
the political climate of the moment.  Go back to Heston's speech at Harvard
Law.  These are not the benchmarks of freedom.  They certainly not the
benchmarks of sanity.

On the subject of fighting the good fight, however,  its time we took the issue
of our trampled rights to the people where it can do some good: the people who
make the laws.  Not the people who enforce them.  Write letters, call your
Congressmen, and Congresswomen, Senators, and other elected representatives.
Until we have actually taken these issues through channels, the success of
disobedience is going to be limited, if at all, and it's going to  carry some
horrid consequences.

Just a thought.

Comment from the U.K.

The equipment in question namely a "hamcomm type interface" or 2/4 "level interface" is most certainly not an illegal device and most certainly
does not "decrypt" or "unscramble" it is merely an interface device that goes between the radio and the computer and is used VERY widely in
the legitimate field of Amateur radio and with radio engineers, hobbyists's purpose is to make the audio signals from a radio
understandable to a computer serial port, the device cannot in itself cannot unscramble or decode anything it is the software that does that bit !.
This device has many uses one of the more common ones is to transmit and receive slow scan television/fax/rtty and other ham data modes etc.
over Amateur radio. It is true that it is widely used in scanning for purposes of getting the signal from the radio to the computer for the software
to decode certain protocols of data, but for the authorities to make it illegal for that reason would be like making all cars illegal because one
drunk driver ran over somebody in a car.

Also from what I understand a certain individual in your country published a log of MDT data from the police etc. on his web site, I personally
think that this was a very stupid and irresponsible act which not only serves to jepordise the work of the law enforcement agency but the
people who's information was displayed on those pages ( which gives me the most concern of all) and also of course the radio hobby itself,
personally the hobby and the field of radio does not need people with such a careless attitude towards radio and what they may pick up on it.
In defence of our hobby I will say that in this country at least I have heard of many occasions where scanning and decoding has been of great
use to the police and authorities. I myself as a former security officer managed to stop a 140,000 embezzlement of the company I was working
for and also helped capture an escaped prisoner and that was all thanks to the scanner radio which I had at the time, not to mention a few other
times I helped the authorities with my radio equipment. With their blessing I add !.

Also before people jump on the band-wagon and condemn all scanner users to an outcast place in society, it is especially worth noting that the
United States Gov.and it's various intelligence agency's is one of the worst offenders of illegal and unethical eavesdropping and communication
interception in the World. Here in the UK we have to put up with the heart of "Echelon" being right on our doorstep both at Mowenstow
(GCHQ) and at Menwith hill RAF base (not to mention many other places) , it is widely known fact that these bases are largely US funded and
largely populated with American personnel. This of course makes it easier for the US intelligence people to carry out domestic surveillance on
the US people if they wish as they are not on US soil and it is all blindly fronted by the UK Gov. who act as servants in all this. Having the
American intelligence agency capable of screening up to 100,000 random calls at any one time from our PRIVATE phone lines provided by 3
main British Telecom fibre optic cables that run through it ( facts of this were accidentally brought out in a recent court case and then ordered
to be kept secret by the Judge) , not to mention the interception of Iinmarsat and various other satellites that carry private and commercial
voice/fax and data on them being intercepted by the authorities using both voice recognition and computers to filter keywords from
conversations, All this is rather more serious than the odd scanner enthusiast overhearing you talking about your stomach ache in a call to
your Aunt. but they seem oblivious to these facts when they pounce on a mere little scanner enthusiast. The people of America may well think
about what there Gov. is doing to them and others before they worry about the small fry !.

It is for the above reasons that some radio enthusiasts believe that it in some cases it is justifiable to listen to what the Authorities are up to
also, most enthusiasts are usually responsible (the ones I know are at least) and would not divulge personal information that they happened
across unless of course it was a serious or life threatening matter, in which case I am sure that any responsible person would notify the
Authorities (anonymously if needed). Eavsdroppers website is there for the Enthusiast, the radio Amateur, scanner enthusiasts and radio
engineers/experimenters alike , it will remain here for the future . As far as is humanly possible the laws of this country are abided by with
regards to posting software for distribution or frequency information which is not illegal, trying to intimidate web site owners to drop their
software distribution will not make them go away merely push it further underground. The hobby is here for all to enjoy and to make better, and
with this comes a responsibility to use common sense and not to jepordise any law agencys legitimate work, divulge personal information etc

Best regards Ian K.