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Wireless Networking Hardware Your Rights Online

Possession of Cantenna Now Illegal? 502

Mad-Mage1 writes "The recent arrests in Florida and the UK of men who were accessing unsecured wireless hotspots has created a flood of articles that contain panic inducing rhetoric. "A small subset of computer-savvy hackers has the know-how and gadgets for more nefarious activities," claims the Sacramento Bee (via Techdirt). "They're (Pringles cans fashioned into antennas) unsophisticated but reliable, and it's illegal to possess them," quips Sacramento County Sheriff's Lt. Bob Lozito of the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force." I hope they tell Fry's about all the illegal antennas they're stocking, too.
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Possession of Cantenna Now Illegal?

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  • How about parts? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fembots ( 753724 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:53PM (#13160868) Homepage
    What if the Pringles Antenna is not assembled, but all the necessary parts are in your possession?
    • by TheStonepedo ( 885845 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:56PM (#13160890) Homepage Journal
      I think that's called having the munchies. You're only in trouble if you have the grass with you still or you can be proven to be intoxicated.
    • by antarctican ( 301636 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:57PM (#13160903) Homepage
      I'm sorry, but how can an antenna possibly be illegal? If that were true, then a long piece of wire would now be illegal too.

      Hrm, no, we're talking 2.4GHz, I guess that would actually be a *short* piece of wire, my bad.

      But regardless, it's like saying owning a screwdriver is illegal because it could be used to take the hinges off an insecure door. Dumb.
      • by Neolithic ( 70450 )
        But regardless, it's like saying owning a screwdriver is illegal because it could be used to take the hinges off an insecure door. Dumb.

        It's like saying having a copy of DeCSS is illegal because it could be used to take copies of movies and put them on the Internet for copyright infringement. Dumb.
      • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:13PM (#13161018)
        As everyone knows, "Use a can of Pringles, go to jail".

        All joking aside, the FCC has always mainted, "That the air waves are free". Recieving data is one thing, but transmitting back is quite another. And just because my front door is open, doesn't mean anyone has permission to enter. The good guys can do everything the bad guys can do. The difference between the good guys, and the bad guys is that the good guys choose not to do it.
        • by CherniyVolk ( 513591 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:50AM (#13163101)
          And just because my front door is open, doesn't mean anyone has permission to enter.

          It is NOT the same! First, a wireless router is broadcasting it's self and if unsecured implies an open INVITATION! Not to mention, that a computer REQUESTS an IP only to be GRANTED, implicitly, by nature of the router ISSUING an IP address. Posting a sign outside your house reading, 'Open House' (at least in America) is an invitation for passerbys to just walk inside. Doing so, and you can't cry about people coming into your home. The police will tell you to take down the sign.
      • Re:How about parts? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Em Ellel ( 523581 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:16PM (#13161029)

        'm sorry, but how can an antenna possibly be illegal? If that were true, then a long piece of wire would now be illegal too.


        I am not a specialist, but I vaguely remember that every antenna used for transmission in that range (2.4Ghz included) is supposed to be FCC approved and not modified, much like every electronic device sold in US must pass FCC tests, etc. Even combining two FCC approved antennas or using an approved antenna for a purpose other than what it is tested for, requires a separate approval.

        Again, I am no speciallist.

        -Em
        • by n6mod ( 17734 )
          2.4GHz is also an amateur band, and it is quite legal to use homebuilt antennas for amateur use. Possesion of a cantenna is *certainly* legal. Transmitting through it may or may not be depending on a number of factors.
        • Antennas used for transmission in that range by unlicensed users are required to be FCC approved and meet a specific criteria.

          Licensed users are a different story.

          In any case, possessing a device that you're not allowed to use isn't a crime. Although using it may be.
          • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Monday July 25, 2005 @09:20PM (#13161829) Homepage
            Antennas used for transmission in that range by unlicensed users are required to be FCC approved and meet a specific criteria.
            That's not entirely true. If your radio equipment uses low enough power, you can transmit almost anywhere in the spectrum with unlicensed equipment. For example, you could make a device that transmits in the FM band with a few milliwatts so you could listen to your iPod over your car radio. And you could even use a high gain antenna on this, as long as your effective radiated power remained below the legal limit.

            (You as an experimenter could design and build such a device without any special permission. If a company were to do it and sell it commercially, I think they'd still need FCC certification.)

            And of course, ham radio operators are licenced, and can use transmitters in the 2.4 gHz band, up to 1500 watts (or 1 or 100 watts if it's spread spectrum like WiFi), if they follow all the ham radio rules.

            But anybody can listen to anything they want, and can make antennas for receiving of any sort. In fact, as long as you're only receiving and not transmitting, I don't see how wardriving could ever be illegal.

            (I believe this even applies to listening to analog cell phone calls, though it is illegal to make or sell equipment that can listen to those bands. But I do believe it's still legal to listen to the calls, as long as you don't tell anybody else what you've heard. (The law is a bit more complicated than that, but I won't get into that right now.))

            In any case, possessing a device that you're not allowed to use isn't a crime. Although using it may be.
            Oh really? I guess you've never heard of charges like `posession of drug paraphernalia' or anything like that? Similar things often apply to lock picks, crowbars and wire cutters as well. I agree that these laws are stupid (as there's already laws against having drugs and committing burglarly) but the are the law.

            But in this case, the police are nuts, and the FCC is likely to smack them down. Only the FCC gets to police the airwaves -- they've made this quite clear in the past.

            However, for normal users, using normal power WiFi equipment, transmitting with one of these cantennas is illegal. Possession isn't, but transmitting is. The FCC regulations limit the amount of power you can transmit with, and it's based either on effective radiated power or volts/meter. Either way, any sort of directional antenna (like a cantenna) increases these figures without increasing the total power, and therefore exceed the FCC permitted power (unless they reduce their transmitter power by a similar amount, of course. Which they probably don't do.)

        • that can't be, because any piece of metal can act as an antenna for an infinate range of frequencies. It just happens that certain lengths and designs are better for some frequencies than others.
        • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @10:43PM (#13162227) Homepage Journal
          I vaguely remember that every antenna used for transmission in that range (2.4Ghz included) is supposed to be FCC approved and not modified

          That's true for anything mass produced, but there is an exception [akamaitech.net] for homemade devices:

          Sec. 15.23 Home-built devices.
          1. Equipment authorization is not required for devices that are not marketed, are not constructed from a kit, and are built in quantities of five or less for personal use.
          2. It is recognized that the individual builder of home-built equipment may not possess the means to perform the measurements for determining compliance with the regulations. In this case, the builder is expected to employ good engineering practices to meet the specified technical standards to the greatest extent practicable. The provisions of Sec. 15.5 apply to this equipment.
        • Wow, there is a lot of nonsense in this thread.

          Anyway, if people are worried about store-bought brand Cantennas (cantenna.com), here is a snipplet of their FAQ:

          Is it legal to use your Cantenna?

          Yes, our Cantennas and Pigtails have been tested and comply with part 15 of the FCC rules. Make sure other wireless devices that you use also comply. Compliance with FCC regulations is your responsibility. Check with your Internet Service Providers to find out if they permit sharing of their Internet connect
        • It's probably illegal to use such an antenna, unless you are an amateur radio operator (just need a Tech license, REALLY easy to get).

          But possession? It is absurd to say that is illegal. Any metal object can be used as an antenna. I don't think the FCC has any rules whatsoever about wiring up connectors to Pringles cans, unless you then use it to generate unlicensed RF fields.

          This cop is clueless. Ignore him.

          -John (AE6NK)
      • Re:How about parts? (Score:5, Informative)

        by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:24PM (#13161084) Homepage Journal
        The issue has to do with transmitted signal strength - which what is what is limited by the FCC. A transmitter with an omnidirectional antenna will expend it's power in all directions, a pringles can antenna takes all that power and squirts it in one direction resulting in a higher signal strength in the desired direction .... that's why it works so well.

        As an extreme example you might consider 'safe' signal levels rather than regulated levels - a high power omnidirectional antenna at some level L might be safe to be around ... but if all that power's concentrated by a dish in the same direction you don't want to get in the way (if you want kids for example) - that's why those satellite uplink dishes have all those warnings on them.

        Receiver antennas are unregulated though - it's legal to have a stock wifi transmitting antenna ... but a pringles can receiver - probably not much use unless you have a pringles receiver on both ends though

      • >>But regardless, it's like saying owning a screwdriver is illegal because it could be used to take the hinges off an insecure door. Dumb.

        Except that if you we actually caught robbing a place, having that screwdriver would (depending on jurisdiction) earn you the additional charge of possesion of burglars tools.

        wbs.
      • Re:How about parts? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:42PM (#13161603) Journal

        I'm sorry, but how can an antenna possibly be illegal? If that were true, then a long piece of wire would now be illegal too.

        Actually it's my understanding from working with a WISP that the cantenna would be illegal as far as the FCC is concerned.

        Our lawyer and the local FCC field people always told us that the entire system had to be certified for Part 15 before it could be used. Even if you build a system out of certified pieces and parts (say an amplifier and an antenna) it's still not Part 15 compliant unless the complete system is certified.

        Now of course that doesn't mean that mere possession of such a device would be illegal. But in the eyes of the FCC you could receive a notice of violation if you were to actually use an uncertified system.

        Just food for thought.

      • Re:How about parts? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Surt ( 22457 )
        It becomes illegal magically when used in the commission of a crime. The same way a kitchen knife becomes possession of a deadly weapon as a lesser included offense after you stab someone with it.
    • NEWSFLASH (Score:5, Funny)

      by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:59PM (#13160918) Homepage Journal
      dit...dit...dit...

      Today, sherif deputies in California unleashed a country wide 'Pringles can ring' bust, raiding over 22 seven-elevin stores. They managed to confinscate over 133 cans of Pringles before they had to cease activities. Apparently the commando-style raids all went smoothly, but an unnamed source in the sherrif's department stated the raids ceased because , 'We were full'.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:39PM (#13161201)
      http://www.broadbandreports.com/shownews/65821 [broadbandreports.com]

      before you spam him into oblivion perhaps give it a second thought:

      Several users e-mailed Lt. Bob Lozito to let him know he was dead wrong. You can't broadcast with a Cantenna or you'll violate FCC guidelines, but you can receive signal. Also, there's no law on the books in any state we're aware of that would make owning a makeshift Wi-Fi antenna illegal. "have received several similar emails," says Lozito. "My comment was not accurately quoted," he states.
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) * on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:53PM (#13160874) Homepage Journal
    Damn, guess I better throw out my yagi and my omni.
  • Illegal? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dark Coder ( 66759 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:54PM (#13160877)
    But sir, this is my TV antenna that I use with my WinTV PCMCIA adapter card.

    No wonder why I got bad reception, its in the WRONG antenna jack!
  • Hmmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DanielNS84 ( 847393 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `48SNleinaD'> on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:54PM (#13160878) Homepage
    Sounds to me like a standard issue case of some locals not knowing what they're talking about...for all they know the only use of these things is to infiltrate other peoples networks. I think there are some "Higher-Ups" who could clear this up for them.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:55PM (#13160879)
    The cantenna itself isn't illegal to posess, but it may very well be illegal to use if it boosts the directional signal beyond the FCC's limit. Remember, 2.4GHz space is unlicensed, but it's not completely unregulated. Power limits are in place to prevent greedy users from stepping on the whole band and locking out others. (See FCC rules [akamaitech.net].)

    The reason why there's all those proprietary connections in antenna space is because you're only supposed to use antennas that are approved for use with the transmitting device, so you stay within the perscribed limits for effective directional power. (Just recently the FCC announced plans to allow for mix-and-matching of antennas. [slashdot.org]) Connect a tightly directional antenna to a transmitter that's operating at full power meant for omnidirectional use, and you'll have an illegal setup. That's exactly the situation most canttenas find themselves in.
    • The antenna improves the gain not the radiated power. As long as the transmitter is FCC compliant in terms of output power, a gain antenna should be fine as far as FCC is concerned. It is conceivable that a directional antenna might focus more energy in a volume of space than RF safety rules allow. If that's the case then you can turn down the output power of the transmitter and off you go again. However we are talking about mWatts here so it is highly unlikely to run afoul of RF safety rools.
      • Directional antennas increase the radiated power in a certain direction. The FCC does not care about the output power of your transmitter into it's coax, it cares about the radiated power into the air - which is where antenna gain comes into play.

        So when you get that 24dB parabolic antenna out, you might be going beyond the regulated power limit for that band.
    • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:32PM (#13161147) Homepage Journal
      Connect a tightly directional antenna to a transmitter that's operating at full power meant for omnidirectional use, and you'll have an illegal setup. That's exactly the situation most canttenas find themselves in.

      The limit for part 15 devices is 1 watt (30 dbm) absolute power or 4 watts (36 dbm) effective radiated power (EIRP). Most wireless cards are around 35 milliwatts (~15 dbm), and are well within the absolute limit. EIRP is measured as transmit power+gain, so a 15 dbm wireless card connected to a 12 dbi cantenna gives us 27 dbm EIRP, about 1/10th the legal EIRP limit. (Note: this is for point-to-multipoint communication. The gain restriction is much looser for point-to-point setups.)

      Those who use high power cards (200 milliwatt (~23 dbm) wireless cards are available) may be close to or over the limit, but I doubt they represent a majority of cantenna deployments.

      Homemade antennas are permissible according to part 15 section 23 (subject to a few restrictions).

  • Yeah yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by Azarael ( 896715 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:55PM (#13160880) Homepage
    Lets make windows illegal too, after all, it only *automatically* hacks into unsecured AP's.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    or are there any women wardrivers ?
    seems everyday like hacking is strictly a sausage party

  • "I hope they tell Fry's about all the illegal antennas they're stocking, too."

    I suppose it is illegal to possess the "Cantenna" because it has not undergone government, ala FCC, testing.
    • I suppose it is illegal to possess the "Cantenna" because it has not undergone government, ala FCC, testing.

      You suppose wrong. Antennas alone require no FCC testing. The FCC only regulates transmitters, and approves them for use with a specific antenna. An antenna alone is a freakin' metal stick, man. The FCC can't regulate the sale of springy bits of wire, regardless of whether the threaded end happens to fit a transmitter somewhere.

  • by highlife ( 653388 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:56PM (#13160892)
    ...end up in the can!
  • by ta ma de ( 851887 ) <chris DOT erik D ... AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:58PM (#13160912)
    My Yagi out of my cold dead ... oh wait ... thats my gun ... sorry.
  • by EggMan2000 ( 308859 ) * on Monday July 25, 2005 @06:58PM (#13160914) Homepage Journal
    First of all Here is the reg sheet on low powered unlicensed transmitters [fcc.gov]
    See Page 2 - Antenna Requirements
    Changing the antenna on a transmitter can significantly increase, or decrease, the strength of the signal that is ultimately transmitted. Except for cable locating equipment, the standards in Part 15 are not based solely on output power but also take into account the antenna characteristics. Thus, a low power transmitter that complies with the technical standards in Part 15 with a particular antenna attached can exceed the Part 15 standards if a different antenna is attached. Should this happen it could pose a serious interference problem to authorized radio communications such as emergency, broadcast and air-traffic control communications.
    In order to prevent such interference problems, each Part 15 transmitter must be designed to ensure that no type of antenna can be used with it other than the one used to demonstrate compliance with the technical standards. This means that Part 15 transmitters must have permanently attached antennas, or detachable antennas with unique connectors. A "unique connector" is one that is not of a standard type found in electronic supply stores.
    (Section 15.203)
    It is recognized that suppliers of Part 15 transmitters often want their customers to be able to replace an antenna if it should break. With this in mind, Part 15 allows transmitters to be designed so that the user can replace a broken antenna. When this is done, the replacement antenna must be electrically identical to the antenna that was used to obtain FCC authorization for the transmitter. The replacement antenna also must include the unique connector described above to ensure it is used with the proper transmitter.
    Now here is the stick. So yes, technically under federal law they are.
    If the operation of a non-compliant transmitter causes interference to authorized radio communications, the user should stop operating the transmitter or correct the problem causing the interference. However, the person (or company) that sold this non-compliant transmitter to the user has violated the FCC marketing rules in Part 2 as well as federal law. The act of selling or leasing, offering to sell or lease, or importing a low-power transmitter that has not gone through the appropriate FCC equipment authorization procedure is a violation of the Commission's rules and federal law. Violators may be subject to an enforcement action by the Commission's Field Operations Bureau that could result in:
    Section 15.1
    Section 15.5
    Section 2.803
    Section 2.805
    Section 2.1203
    o forfeiture of all non-compliant equipment
    o $100,000/$200,000 criminal penalty for an individual/organization
    o a criminal fine totalling twice the gross gain obtained from sales of the non-compliant equipment
    o an administrative fine totalling $10,000/day per violation, up to a maximum of $75,000
    • This applies to those who design and sell complete transmitters. If the transmitter you purchased was FCC certified, and you as an individual happened to install a different antenna, what can they do? And someone selling an antenna can't be held liable, it's not a transmitter by itself.
    • In order to prevent such interference problems, each Part 15 transmitter must be designed to ensure that no type of antenna can be used with it other than the one used to demonstrate compliance with the technical standards. This means that Part 15 transmitters must have permanently attached antennas, or detachable antennas with unique connectors. A "unique connector" is one that is not of a standard type found in electronic supply stores.

      That's a rather scary statement - isn't the connector on the back of

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:00PM (#13160922)
    Pringles can antennas are legal to own in the US. They are not legal to use for 802.11 equipment because you are only permitted to use an antenna that has been expressly approved for the specific model of 802.11 base station that you are using it with.

    When Linksys comes up with a new antenna design, they must test it with every single AP they want it to be legal to use it with. The idea is that you can't accidentally transmit a stronger signal than you're supposed to.

    If you are a radio amateur, you can re-classify the gear and use it legitimately, as long as you use no encryption, no swearing, nothing commercial, etc. etc.

    However, for most people, and most uses, pringles can antennas are unquestionably illegal to use. They also usually don't work that well - many of them are _directional_, sure, but they're directional because they're weak in most directions, rather than strong in a particular one.

    A good antenna would mask the signals behind you and boost the signals in front. Many pringles designs mask the signals behind you but don't amplify the ones in front. That makes them really not very useful.
    • However, for most people, and most uses, pringles can antennas are unquestionably illegal to use. They also usually don't work that well - many of them are _directional_, sure, but they're directional because they're weak in most directions, rather than strong in a particular one.

      I also understood that pringle cans are pretty close to the perfect diameter, but not perfect. A cookie can with a bigger diameter or something similar should work better than a Pringle can. And it's a change of diet for most of
    • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:26PM (#13161105) Homepage
      Pringles can antennas are legal to own in the US. They are not legal to use for 802.11 equipment because you are only permitted to use an antenna that has been expressly approved for the specific model of 802.11 base station that you are using it with.

      Subtle (but critical) error in the above. They are not legal for sale on 802.11 equipment if they're not approved. Untested (i.e. not specifically approved by the FCC for that application) homebuilt antennas are perfectly legal so long as the home builder has made a reasonable effort to heep the gain within FCC transmission power limits. Even then, the worst the FCC can do its require that you stop using it upon finding out it does exceed the limit. (See FCC part 15 rules, specifically 15.23)

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:00PM (#13160924)
    The title is the typical stupid panic inducing kind "Hackers prey on unguarded wireless links" but it contains a good point: That with unsecured wireless routers and unencrypted transmissions, anybody near you place can use view your activities and use your internet connection and either steal your identity or abuse the connection and have it traced back to you.

    It's not hard to understand, but when I go to a friends' house who has wireless, 2 times out of 3 my notebook can use their internet w/o a problem. Then I end up telling them to admin their router and set it up for encrypted transmission + letting only certain wireless MAC addresses through.

    Any other suggestion on security?
    • Personally, I recommend disabling encryption and MAC address filtering. They may prevent the casual user, but offer a false sense of security to a real attack.

      A better solution (IMO) is to establish a VPN to a physically-connected computer, and route through it. That machine should also act as a firewall, and deny any non-VPN-based traffic.

      This is more setup, and does require an anchor machine. However, the odds of an e.g. IPSec-based VPN getting broken are much lower then someone spoofing a dormant
  • ...their slang. Are they calling it Cantenna these days? And does that refer to the leaf form or the resin?
  • Its sorta true. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 )
    "They're (Pringles cans fashioned into antennas) unsophisticated but reliable, and it's illegal to possess them,"

    That's not strictly accurate, but it contains a grain of truth.

    It is an unlawful violation of the FCC regs to USE a cantenna, as it has not been certified for use with any radio broadcast systems.

    Violators may be forced to immediately and permanantly cease use of their uncertified system. That is the extent of the possibile penalties.
  • I hope someone points out the error of his statement in a very public manner, to persuede other law enforcement officials from making uninformed blanket statements like this. Yes, this is a single statement, but the problem is that anyone with a motive or just the urge to bust a user of a cantenna can say "look, the sherriff in such and such place said it's illegal, I can arrest you for it" without even checking the facts. This kinda stuff can carry on long after the first statement was issued, and snowba
  • AFAIK, if a particular setup would violate FCC Rules and Regs, it's up to the FCC to enforce them. It's a subject that's strictly under federal regulation, not state police, not county sheriffs, not local P.Ds.

    Will they go after copies of the ARRL Handbook [arrl.org] next?

  • I'm not an expert here in terms of regulations and such so take my question/opinion with a grain of salt (and please answer if you know the answer).

    I can understand how putting a more powerful TRANSMITTING antenna on an access point would be bad. The FCC is actually looking out for us, making sure we don't scramble our brains with too much power. However, how can having an antenna that simply boosts a weak signal to your computer be regulated? The power from the transmitter is the same...this receiving a
    • Since the same antenna is used for both transmitting and receiving, whatever gain is observed in receiving weak signals is also applied to the transmitted signal.

      In effect, the antenna takes the energy that a simple monopole would transmit equally in all directions, and concentrates it in one (or occasionally two) directions. So the transmitted signal is higher in the favored direction (and weakened in other directions).

      • Duh...I completely forgot about the fact our PowerBook will need to send a signal back to the AP. This makes total sense now. Done correctly, you could build one rather powerful antenna. I'd hate to see the dB readings shootin' out of that thing.
  • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:05PM (#13160957) Homepage Journal
    "They're unsophisticated but reliable, and it's illegal to possess them," said Lozito of the Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force.

    Lozito, meet fcc part 15 rules [gpo.gov]:

    Sec 15.23: home built devices
    1. Equipment authorization is not required for devices that are not marketed, are not constructed from a kit, and are built in quantities of five or less for personal use.
    2. It is recognized that the individual builder of home-built equipment may not possess the means to perform the measurements for determining compliance with the regulations. In this case, the builder is expected to employ good engineering practices to meet the specified technical standards to the greatest extent practicable. The provisions of Sec. 15.5 apply to this equipment.

    Also, cantennas are no better (except in terms of price) than commercially available antennas which are also legal to own and use, provided you use them in accordance with fcc regulations, for instance by not exceeding power and gain limits, and without breaking any other applicable laws.

    (disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, or an RF engineer)

  • I'm sure the honorable Lt. Bob Lozito, the officer quoted as stating that the antennas are illegal, could articulate which section of the law makes them so. Give him a call:

    Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force
    4510 Orange Grove Avenue
    Sacramento, CA 95841
    916.874.3002

    (Courtesy of:
    http://www.sacsheriff.com/organization/contract_se rvices/hi_tech.cfm [sacsheriff.com])
  • I checked up on the task force and sent a request for more information. You can to here: info@sachitechcops.org.

    From the looks of their website [sachitechcops.org], they are a loose collection of law enforcement agencies that are using this organization so they can be associated with a group with "High Tech" and "Task Force" in the title

    I think this title association was described in a Dilbert book...

  • Same topic with same wording was posted on broadbandreports.com earlier today: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/65821 [dslreports.com]
  • by Temkin ( 112574 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:14PM (#13161021)


    Channels 1 thru 6 are inside the 2.4Ghz ham radio band. If you have a valid amateur radio license, you have the right to operate with homebrew equipment.

    The July 2005 QST magazine has an article about ham expermenting with 24dbi dish antennas and standard off the shelf AP's. They claim 12 miles is easy, but they run into problems with ack timing at longer ranges. Bandwidth rolls off significantly... at 34 miles!

  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:15PM (#13161027)
    I contacted the officer asking for clarification of his claim:

    bani: Er, what exact law makes cantennas illegal? I'd seriously like to know.

    bob_lozito: Bad quote.

    bani: is there an accurate transcript or recording available?

    bob_lozito: Not sure. Either way, it is not illegal and if I inferred it, I was
    wrong. I have had so many emails concerning this, it is getting to the
    point that I cannot get any work done.

    I cannot reply to all of you but am trying to do the best I can.


    He admitted he was wrong, maybe we can cut him some slack?
  • saw the number up there, so i called. apparently his time has been taken up all day today repsonding to nerds like me, but he was able to clarify on the comment he made about cantennas being illegal to paraphrase, he stated that while he knows that cantennas are NOT illegal he said that tools that burglars use ARE illegal and are illegal to possess, and this should apply to the tools used to break into networks as well. He seemed really irritated about this whole fiasco talking to him, and apparently has had a lot of calls and emails about his quote. poor guy.
  • by geekee ( 591277 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:33PM (#13161161)
    So whoever wrote the post and the editor missed the point of the article entirely. The article is telling people to secure their wireless networks to prevent unwanted guests accessing your network for nefarious purposes. However, one line was pulled out of the article, saying possessing certain antennae is illegal, when it probably should have said these antennae can be used illegally by breaking the FCC maximum output power requirements for WiFi. The point was to warn people that a person doesn't need to be parked next to your house to access your network, since by using the right equipment, someone can access your network from a long distance. Given all the publicity on /. over security, I'm surprised that an article claiming that people need to lock down their wireless networks is described as "containing panic inducing rhetoric".
  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:06PM (#13161379) Homepage Journal
    the Heath Company, approximately 1961, for its brand of oil-filled dummy loads for amateur radio tuning use. Heath is still around. try calling these the "chiptennas" instead, eh?
  • by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:27PM (#13161509)
    Using a cantenna (or indeed, any antenna other than that which the device was certified with, except in certain circumstances) *is* against the law.

    It just happens to be administrative law, not legislative law. The FCC regulations are laws regarding transmission of radio frequencies, and it is a violation of such regulations to use a "cantenna" to broadcast as a Part 15 user, which is what you fall under as a consumer with your wifi equipment. If you have a HAM license, you can operate under a different set of regulations, but there are restrictions on what you can do with the radio, and most people don't have such authorization who are using these antennas.

    Not to mention it is illegal to connect to someone else's computer network and use its resources without their explicit approval. This legal approval may be automated (software that takes payment or verifies location) or not (you have to talk to the owner) but unless you're given some sort of legal authorization, not just the technical authorization, you're also breaking the law.

    So, two things in one there, really.
  • Cantenna Illegal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by scharkalvin ( 72228 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:04AM (#13163935) Homepage
    When I first read the headline I scratched my head. Why would a dummy antenna be illegal?

    Heathkit sold a dummy antenna (really a 1000w 50ohm resistor in a paint can filled with transformer oil) back in the 60's and 70's for hams to use for testing transmitters without causing interference, the device was called a 'cantenna'. Guess the word now has a new meaning.

    BTW since hams also have use of the 2.4ghz band, this new cantenna would be LEGAL for sale and use by hams in this band.

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