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FCC Reserves the Right To Search Your Home, Any Time 589

Posted by timothy
from the who-are-you-to-disagree dept.
mikesd81 writes "Wired.com reports that you may not know it, but if you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cellphone in your house, the FCC claims the right to enter your home without a warrant at any time of the day or night in order to inspect it. FCC spokesman David Fiske says 'Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference.' The FCC claims it derives its warrantless search power from the Communications Act of 1934, though the constitutionality of the claim has gone untested in the courts. 'It is a major stretch beyond case law to assert that authority with respect to a private home, which is at the heart of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure,' says Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Lee Tien. 'When it is a private home and when you are talking about an over-powered Wi-Fi antenna — the idea they could just go in is honestly quite bizarre.'"
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FCC Reserves the Right To Search Your Home, Any Time

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  • by Akido37 (1473009) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:15AM (#28051785)
    The first place they'll try this will be at NewYorkCountryLawyer's house.
  • Why even say this? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mc1138 (718275) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:21AM (#28051843) Homepage
    Are they actually planning on home invasions? Unless they have inspectors lining up to look at my wireless setup then saying this which will clearly get a lot of people "us" all worked up, why say it at all?
  • by joelmax (1445613) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:30AM (#28051903) Journal
    I know the Castle Docterine exists for some states (Or used to), I wonder if (Assuming one is in that state) could use that as a valid defense for shooting an FCC goon on your property...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:31AM (#28051909)

    This is the same Canada where freedom of speech is restricted based on vague "hate speech" grounds, right?

    Fortunately the US hasn't quite picked up on that idea yet, though I don't doubt they'd like to try it. "Criticizing Obama? Sounds like hate speech to me. Lock 'em up!"

  • And under... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:32AM (#28051913) Homepage Journal

    ... Florida's "Castle" doctrine, I reserve the right to shoot them as they walk thru the door.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:39AM (#28051991)
    "He who represents himself has a fool for a client."
    - Abraham Lincoln
  • by OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:40AM (#28052011)
    it doesn't matter if they are in a uniform or show up with badges you can get all that crap from some online surplus store if they don't have a warrant they need to get the F off my land
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:44AM (#28052045)
    Hey, this is slashdot...there has to be misleading/misquoted summaries to drum up fake outrage!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:45AM (#28052051)

    Are they actually planning on home invasions?

    Only after other common things are outlawed. Uniformed police officers will be brought along as observers. If anyone observes some newly illegal thing (gun, book, ham radio, non-TPM computer), then arrests can be made sans warrant.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:53AM (#28052135) Homepage Journal

    A bad law is a bad law, whether it's used or not.

  • Re:And under... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pongo000 (97357) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:53AM (#28052139)

    Umm...no you don't. There's no state law anywhere that gives you the right to shoot a federal law enforcement officer who properly identifies himself/herself as such.

    It's people like you that make people like us have to fight every inch for our rights under the 2nd Amendment.

  • by tiggertaebo (1480739) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:57AM (#28052187)

    as if there isn't enough outrage from the genuine stuff!

  • by Chmcginn (201645) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:02AM (#28052235) Journal

    In Canada, a defendant has to prove a statement true,

    You say this like its a bad thing . . . My phones aren't tapped regardless of the law

    What does that have to do with the fact that, in Canada, at least, you are guilty until proven innocent in 'hate speech' cases? Sure, some things may be better up in the Great White North, but defending against one accusation by bringing up completely unrelated points isn't very effective debating.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:03AM (#28052245) Homepage

    Nope. Because it will not be used against anyone unless the Feds need a reason to enter and search that home and dont want to get a warrant.

    Example? sure.. Psyborgue is a known anti goverment leader. They've been watching him for years now and just know that he is going to do something bad very soon. They cant get a warrant from the damned Liberal judges that hate america so they use the FCC ruling to bust in legally and search the home. BTW, if an officer spots something other than they are looking for, They can use that against you because of the changes they had put into the patriot act.

    They can now go on legal fishing expeditions on anyone they really need to. It's a tool in the arsenal against T E R R O R I S M and that is what it was specifically created for. I dont care what bullshit they feed the public. It has a specific purpose.

    This is it's use. the FCC has not done anything to fight interference for years. Hell most Pirate FM stations don't get taken down until they become big and obvious. They dont raid homes over Wifi violations. They do however make a good tool for other departments.

  • Re:And under... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:12AM (#28052391)

    Because we all know laws are only used for what they were originally designed for, I mean, it's completely unimaginable that a law could be used to achieve a different end because it just happens to conveniently available

  • Re:And under... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:20AM (#28052541)

    That, and everytime innocent people get mowed down by an idiot with a gun, there is this problem of this idiot with a gun... who 'dun it'...

    Fix that first, and your other fight will become a lot easier.

  • by Spasemunki (63473) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:22AM (#28052565) Homepage

    They have exercised this power in the sense of fining people for not letting them inspect equipment. The reason that they do it, most likely, is because it would be too easy to dodge inspections otherwise. If they have to 1) knock and ask first and then 2) get a warrant if you say no, it's too easy to relocate the transmitter and then fire it up again when you think the heat is off. They would rather not add the time and expense of applying for a warrant each time they have to do an inspection, the way that a LEA does with actual searches. Furthermore, they are looking at preserving their general right to perform inspections without additional authorizations by the court; their view is the law provides them with the right to perform inspections of the equipment, and if you buy that equipment, you've consented to be inspected.

    Imagine if the fire marshal had to get a warrant every time he wanted to make sure that the fire exits weren't being blocked in a large office building. It would significantly hamper the ability of the agency to conduct its job.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:22AM (#28052573)
    You mean you prefer the way the court ruled before they were on it? You know the Kelo ruling (the government can seize your property under eminent domain to give it to someone else who will pay more taxes--or at least is better connected politically).
  • Re:And under... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:26AM (#28052633)

    Umm...no you don't. There's no state law anywhere that gives you the right to shoot a federal law enforcement officer who properly identifies himself/herself as such.

    It's people like you that make people like us have to fight every inch for our rights under the 2nd Amendment.

    What if their entry is contrary to the Constitution, even if apparently permitted by legislation?

    Are you saying that we have to accept the Congress' disregard for the Constitution?

    [Note: I'm talking about what's legally correct, not about what would get you convicted or not convicted.]

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:27AM (#28052635) Homepage Journal

    Sure, they shouldn't do it but nailing sharp nails so that the unsuspecting children would hurt themselves is just evil.

    I'm pretty sure the blind children aren't hopping the fence to take a shortcut through your yard.

    When a society makes other people responsible for your safety when you're doing something you're not supposed to do, it has failed... by which standard most of our societies are on the way out. Without personal responsibility you end up being a nation of useless bitches. (There are always exceptions. But most people are lame.)

  • Of course Lincoln said this. He was a fucking lawyer and his mindset including producing more revenue for lawyers who don't get paid if you represent yourself.

    Stop acting like the "great men" of our nation didn't have personal agendas. For fuck's sake, they were men, not some kind of ideal that never existed.

  • by Five Bucks! (769277) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:42AM (#28052907)

    If I were a lawyer and I were being sued for some reason, I would prefer to hire someone to represent me.

    My reasoning would be that being sued is a very stressful and emotional circumstance; a circumstance that would deprive me of my best judgment and reason. Instead of making solid, fact-based statements and questions, I would probably be more liable to tell the prosecutor to piss off. Not really something that will get you far in court.

    Having someone else represent you provides an amount of detachment from irrational emotion that could ruin a case.

  • Re:And under... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spasemunki (63473) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:46AM (#28052969) Homepage

    We have an organization that decides if legislation is contrary to the Constitution. They're called the Supreme Court. You don't get to decide the constitutionality of legislation for yourself. You have to obey all laws properly passed by a legislative body, until the law is struck down. That's why the ACLU and other organizations create test cases to get bad laws struck down. If you violate a law because you think it isn't constitutional, you will go to jail until the SC rules. If you kill someone based on your opinion of the constitutionality of the law they are acting under, you will go to prison for murder.

  • by knight24k (1115643) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:05AM (#28053241)
    Merits? What merits? It was an ad hominem attack against Lincoln solely because he was a lawyer. It offered nothing to the discussion and was, IMO, deliberately phrased to elicit an emotional response from other readers. Did the poster offer any indication where he got this idea? Did he offer any evidence that Lincoln was biased when he made this statement? No, his sole reason for discounting and attacking the quote was because Lincoln was a lawyer himself. Period.

    Sorry, if I had mod points I would have tagged it the same way. You probably got tagged for the backhand comment towards the mods which, again IMO, were perfectly correct in labeling the post as flamebait.

    Even more interesting is the fact that Lincoln did not originate this quote. A quick google finds this same adage in print going back to the very early 1800's so while Lincoln may have said it at some time, it was not originally his quote, unless he made it from the cradle.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:31AM (#28053609) Homepage Journal
    "how the hell is this flamebait? drop the groupthink hero-worship for a minute and read the post on its merits."

    I dunno. For some reason, starting shortly after Lincoln was assasinated, he was given almost god like status.

    I'm torn in my feelings towards him. While I'm glad that the union was preserved for the present day, I do feel a lot of our problems and erosion of states rights, and the SERIOUS errors of that apparent today...are also to be attributed to Lincoln.

    And he 'was' a lawyer...so, I do have a bit of inherit distrust for lawyers, as many of us in the US do.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:38AM (#28053699) Journal

    Ok, so you let the FCC inspector in, he sees your pot plant, and goes to the cops. They get a warrant, search and arrest you. Considering that the warrant was only obtained because of evidence from an unwarranted search, how is this any different than simply allowing evidence from unwarranted searches to be used against you?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:39AM (#28053719)

    There's a pretty good-sized gap between 'responsible for your safety' and actively trying to injure someone.

    Losing all sense of proportionality and responsibility is another sign of a failing society (pot - meet kettle).

  • Re:Well said! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:08AM (#28054131) Journal

    "Do not kill, unless your life is in danger"

    Fixed that for you. The laws surrounding self-defense generally don't say that you can only use deadly force when facing an armed assailant. They typically say that before you can use deadly force you must have a reasonable belief that your life is in mortal danger. A 90 pound 4'11" female facing a 300 pound 6'11" male attacker is under no obligation not to shoot him just because he isn't armed. If she reasonably believes that her life is in danger she is allowed to use deadly force to defend herself.

  • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:09AM (#28054155)
    Lay it to rest?

    You proclaim yourself to be a person that has "disdain for government overstepping it's bounds...". Do you have some misguided hope that your government will stop overstepping its bounds when people stop threatening to stand up for their rights?

    This "knuckle-dragger boast" is precisely the type of response we should have a bit more of. The people of the US need to start actually threatening to protect their rights, and protesting the intrusion of the government where it is not lawfully extended, and take some responsibilty for standing up and holding their government accountable for its actions. Maybe their government will realize they are not all sheep willing to buy off on the rhetoric and backroom bill edits to sneak in another law that removes their freedoms.

    This system of government is meant to represent YOU. Do you feel its appropriate for your government to use obtuse interpretations of overly complicated and obscure laws to walk into your home at any time? Or do you think maybe you have the right to stand them up in your doorway and say NO.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:13AM (#28054217)

    Getting a HAM license requires taking some tests, and knowing what the policies are before you put your radio gear up. You know, should know, and can know what you're responsible for. If you're transmitting against the rules, and the FCC calls you on it - you stop doing it and/or get fined.

    You know it's going to happen.

    Now if some $80 POS Linksys goes haywire and the FCC tells me about it, I'll shut it off and get a new one. But no way, no how, am I going to let those fucks in to 'inspect' - if they want to come in, then go swear out a warrant describing the particulars of what they're looking for and bring a cop with you. If the warrant's valid, I'll let you in FOR THAT and nothing else. If you don't want to swear out a warrant, then fuck off - I'm not letting you in. And if you shove your way in, you WILL be put down on the ground as a trespasser - I don't want to shoot you, but I will if I have to - so long as you sit there quitely and wait for the Police to show up to arrest you, the trespasser, you'll have no problems.

    Now bring a warrant, and we're good. But unless and until you do that - you're a trespasser. US Sup Ct. rulings back that up. I've been involved in a few court cases in IL where that's been backed up - no warrant, no entry. No probable cause? No warrant, no entry.

    The gas company tried this bullshit under the guise of complying with some half-assed regulation promulgated by the Federal DOT, and which the IL ICC adopted. They allegedly had to inspect meters INSIDE houses for atmospheric corrosion, etc every 5 years (when they first adopted the policy), then every 3 years (a year after they adopted the policy), who knows how often next year... I told them to fuck off after ignoring 15 of their notices. Finally had my lawyer call them up and threaten to sue them. That got them to move the meter outside for free - yeah, I had to let them in to do the work, but that was a one-off thing, and the entry/area they could go to was highly restricted... Now I'll never worry about it again...

    I don't care if it's "Administrative" or "Criminal" - a search is a search, no matter who does it. No warrant, no entry. WE, THE PEOPLE, granted certain privileges to the Government, and WE reserve the rest - not the other way around. The price of Freedom and Liberty is eternal vigilance - it's worth fighting for, so do it and stop being pussies.

  • Re:Well said! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:16AM (#28054279)
    That both parties can understand without paying 200 per hour for an "interpretation", yes I would. By the way there is no guarantee that the interpretation is correct and you don't have any recourse against the interpreter if the interpretation is wrong.
  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:30AM (#28054521) Homepage Journal

    Agreed. Its a strange world when you think killing someone for trying to rob you is acceptable.

    The same country that touts due process and a fair legal system believes in offing someone for walking onto the wrong property by accident.

    Note the children who've been shot while trick or treating. Or this documentary camera man [austinchronicle.com], who died while leaving the property. Situations like this [wordpress.com] do not exactly inspire confidence in the kind of logic home defence proponents use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:44AM (#28054709)

    You're mostly right. As long as visits comply with the 24 hour notice rule or are for the purpose of completing necessary repairs that I have requested or the landlord has notified me about previously I don't really mind. Almost all states have a provision where you can disallow access if it's inconvenient for you until a mutually agreeable time.

    I'd kick up a crap storm if someone was asking to do a monthly walkthrough and get a court injunction against them.

    Note, in many states, they can't come onto any of the property you control without 24 hour notice or for emergencies (e.g. burst water pipe). Yes that's right, if you rent and have your own yard attached to the place, they can't even step foot on it. They can stand on the street and stare at it, however.

    I don't think an annual walkthrough to check for items in need of repair is out of the question, or to send people in if they're planning to do something like change the carpet or paint (even if you'd rather they didn't, they still have the right to make upgrades to their property that they see as necessary or that may increase the value).

    I'm back to owning again, so this is moot for me at the moment. I've had obnoxious landlords, I just start quoting state law by section to them and they normally back down.

  • Messrs. Smith and Wesson should be prepared to hear counter arguments from the partners Heckler and Koch.

    In plain english: If the FCC's search ability is used as leverage by another agency, chances are they will have armed people there. If you go attacking (or threatening) them with your weapons, you have some good chances of ending up dead. In principle, you (usually? in most states?) have the right to defend youself from home invasion ... but what good is that if you are dead, and your vindication is posthumous? I think your family would prefer a father to a martyr.

  • by Guido del Confuso (80037) on Friday May 22, 2009 @12:44PM (#28055627)

    You should ponder upon why Judeo-Christian religions (of which Islam is an off-shoot) are so vastly popular. And if you do, you will find that it is an average person's deep-seated desire for a concise, clear set of rules to govern society that is at the very heart of it. Mock that desire it at your own peril.

    I disagree. They are popular for the same reason all religion is popular--they give meaning to the meaningless. It has nothing to do with wanting a set of laws that cover every situation. In point of fact, Jewish tradition does not prescribe a set of laws that must be meticulously followed. Rather, there are a few such laws--the commandments--and a set of guidelines for moral behavior. Much of Jewish Talmudic tradition, for example, focuses on interpreting, challenging, and clarifying laws set out in the Torah. And even the experts in the Talmud will be the first to admit that it is impossible for them to conceive of every possible situation in advance.

    You always need an arbitration process to prevent abuse.

    Why? What is the job of the courts, if not to interpret the law? Under your proposal, there would be no need for judges, because laws would be clear and concise in every set of circumstances. The possibility of one particular enforcement agent misapplying (not "abusing", because under what you propose no such abuse would be possible) the law could be resolved by a simple appeals process whereby the direct supervisor of, say, the police officer makes a determination whether the law was appropriately enforced. Under your system, that would be all that the courts do anyway, because it would not be up to them to determine if the law is fair or not--only whether it applies in this circumstance. Anybody could do that, right?

    And that is different from, say, the US constitution, how exactly?

    Tell me the precise settled meaning of the Second Amendment, for example, and you will have answered your own question. The Constitution is a guideline establishing how the government should be run and what rights and responsibilities are held by the federal government, the states, and the people. It is not a precise code of laws that is not open to interpretation.

    Bullshit. Well designed laws, even though they can be changed, require less and less modifications as more refined they become. Bullshit, byzantine, intellectual diarrhoea "laws" are in a state of constant chaotic flux and become more and more confused and voluminous as the time passes, because confusion and chaos are their very purpose.

    Your argument falls apart when you realize that, no matter how carefully crafted and precise you think your laws are, somebody will always find an exception, a "but what if", a border case, or some other situation that is not directly covered by the law. In order to cover this particular case, the law would need to be modified to add an exception, or you risk the ambiguity of not knowing how that same situation should be resolved the next time it comes up. The law therefore becomes more and more complex with time. You simply can't make a law cover more situations adequately by making it simpler, because the simpler you make the law the more likely you are to find exceptions to it.

    Again, bullshit. Religions do that because they have no mechanism to correct their "commandments". Human laws do. But that does not mean that a correction must always be uniformly in the direction of more complexity. In fact the whole art of law-making is to go in the precisely the opposite direction, to formulate simple laws in such a way as to cover all cases.

    Again, this is logically inconsistent. Simpler means more general, and it's the specifics that are always the thorny issue in a legal system.

    This has nothing to do with "subtlety" and "nuance". It has to do with byzantine, arcane, sets of incomprehensible to an

  • Let them try (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Friday May 22, 2009 @12:55PM (#28055763)
    Go ahead, let them try. If they don't "knock and announce," I am going to treat them as invaders. In Arizona, there are laws allowing you to defend your home. I believe they call them, "Home as Castle" laws and they should be prepared to meet whatever force I deem necessary to protect my domicile. Ain't a prosecutor in the shady side of the desert that won't side with me as long as I don't shoot them in the back and give them a reasonable chance to retreat.
  • Re:Well said! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guido del Confuso (80037) on Friday May 22, 2009 @01:09PM (#28056001)

    Err, no. Juries must decide if a law was broken or not. To do so they must not only find facts, but also compare them to the template of the law, which is where the process falls apart as the laws are so fucked up that juries have next to an impossible task of figuring out if the "law" was broken or not.

    No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO! You couldn't be more wrong about this, and it shows you have a fundamental lack of understanding about how the legal system works. Your aversion to it is not surprising, as people have a tendency to deride things they cannot or will not understand.

    The process works like this. The two sides present the case in front of the jury. The judge and jury hear the case. The JUDGE makes determinations of law, and for the purposes of the case, that is the law as far as the jury is concerned. When the parties are finished, the judge explains to the jury the possible verdicts they can come back with in simple, straightforward terms much like you are proposing. This is why jury instructions are so critical, and why quite a few appeals turn on whether juries are given proper instructions or not.

    A typical instruction will be go basically like this: "If you find that the defendant killed the victim with his car intentionally and with malice, then you must return a verdict of guilty of homicide. If you find that the defendant killed the victim with his car because he was not paying adequate attention to the road, you must return a verdict of guilty of manslaughter. And if you find that the defendant was paying sufficient attention and this was simply an unavoidable accident, you must return a verdict of not guilty." It should NEVER be up to the jury to make determinations of what the law is; only whether the set of facts conform to that law, as it is explained by the judge. If they have questions, they are obligated to ask the judge for clarification rather than attempting to make that determination on their own. In truth, it's about as close to your proposed system as one could hope for. If that is unsuitable to you, then you are contradicting yourself.

  • Re:Well said! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:09PM (#28056933) Journal

    But in many states, the petite female has to at least retreat

    If you can safely retreat then your life isn't in danger, now is it?

    while they use center of mass body shots to kill suspects

    They use center of mass shots because that's the best way to ensure a hit under a stressful situation. Given that they wouldn't (or rather shouldn't) be shooting unless their lives are threatened I really don't have a problem with this concept. If a criminal threatens the life of a police officer (or anyone else for that matter) then he forfeits his right to complain about deadly force being used in response.

    In such a scenario it was not the policemen who made the decision that someone was going to die that day. It was the criminal. The policemen just made the decision that it wasn't going to be him who died.

    or shoot fleeing suspects in the back because they are merely have a gun.

    How do you know they are fleeing and aren't just running to a more advantageous location (i.e: cover) before they resume shooting at the officer? I'm sorry but if you draw a firearm on a police officer then all bets are off.

    This is one of the reason's I don't like many southern states, because they have a stupid castle law--if someone reach's for a gun, that's consideration to kill them, even though they may be reaching for it because THEY feel endangered.

    WTF does the castle law have to do with this? The castle law says that you don't have an obligation to retreat from your own residence or (less common) public areas where you have a lawful right to be. It has nothing to do with "if they reach for a gun you can kill them". If someone reaches for a gun and you have a reasonable belief that they intend to use it against you then you can respond with deadly force in every state in the country, regardless of whether or not they have a castle law.

  • Re:Well said! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:24PM (#28057159) Journal

    I don't think either of us said we don't need any lawyers. The main thing that I object to is the fact that lawyers are basically running this country. What percentage of Congress is made up of lawyers? What was our current President's background before he got into politics?

    A more balanced system would see people from all occupations serving in Congress if for no other reason than to provide perspective.

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