The FCC is stepping up enforcement on pirate radio. They have released an enforcement advisory, which you can read here.
The advisory starts out like this:
WARNING: Unauthorized Radio Broadcasting is Illegal
Persons or Businesses Operating “Pirate” Broadcast Stations
Are in Violation of Federal Law and Subject to Enforcement Action
Okay, so when you stop laughing, here is what will really happen: They will go out, bust a few pirates, issue larger than normal Notices of Apparent Liability, collect none of the money from them and call it a huge success. I doubt very much that the FCC or congress has the wherewithal to wage an all out effort against pirate broadcasting. This is the same FCC that eliminated most of its field enforcement agents and closed most of their field offices. But that doesn’t matter either, because the NYC field office is still open and within a ten mile radius of that, there are likely a dozen or more unlicensed broadcasters.
In the mean time, if you are a licensed broadcaster, God forbid you accidentally miss a Required Monthly Test or have an unlocked tower fence.
It is like the city police force that sits on a stop sign writing tickets to otherwise law abiding motorists when the next block over, kids are out in the street openly selling bricks of heroin. Meanwhile, the chief of police sits in his office furiously typing blistering memos saying that the sale of heroin is illegal.
It is not news that the FCC has its hands full with the FM pirates in the NYC area, particularly Brooklyn. On any given night, as many as thirty unlicensed signals can be heard, jammed between the commercial and non-commercial broadcasters in the FM band.
I am quite sure that other parts of the country have similar pirate problems. I do not see the FCC getting much more funding for enforcement purposes.
For most engineers, this will be a non-starter. Engineers (and other technical people) tend to see things in binary; on/off, right/wrong, black/white, legal/illegal, working/broken, etc. It is the nature of logic and dealing everyday operating status’ of technical equipment. A transmitter that is halfway working is broken. There is very little grey area in the interpretation of these things, nor is there very much human element. One cannot reason with a broken piece of equipment; it is to be either repaired or replaced.
Helping a person engaged in what is ostensibly an illegal activity, no matter how pragmatic such help might be, or how just or helpful the illegal activity may be to the community, would not be something that most radio engineers that I know would want to take part in.
Truth be told, some good might come from helping pirate broadcasters clean up their act. Over modulation, spurious emissions, poor quality transmitters all create bigger problems for everyone else. The moral dilemma is what type of help to offer and can this or any technical advice then be used to make bigger and better pirates.
I don’t know, but it may be time to start thinking about things like this…
Another trove of surveillance documents revels some interesting technical aspects of spying in the modern age:
What we have here is a copper wire tap. This allows some telco or ISP to split an ethernet feed, send one output on it’s merry way, while the other output goes to? If not interception and collection, I don’t rightly know what else this device is designed for.
There are many many more like this on the wilileaks website. Have any doubts about how deep the internet survailance goes? Spend a few minutes poking around, it is an eye opening experiance.