Plane-spotters from UK charged in India

Two UK plane-spotters arrested in India have been charged with intercepting communications, the Foreign Office (FCO) has confirmed.

LINK: persons unlawfully intercepting official messages could face a year in prison or a fine of 500 rupees

Funny, 500 Rupees is like $10.81 USD.

Still, that’s probably more than twice what it costs to incarcerate someone for a year in India.

Eh, I would pay $10.81 to plane spot but I don’t think I’d want any jail time.

So its illegal to listen to ATC transmissions over there? Lets hope the TSA doesn’t read this article and get any ideas.

It’s illegal in most countries around the world, although rarely enforced.

they pretty much have laws similar to the UK. OFCOM in the UK pushed through the British Telephony Act of 1949 (and subsequently updated it in 2004) to state that any radio communications not directed to you or intended for you to hear is illegal to rebroadcast. This is why there aren’t any ATC feeds of any UK-based airport. India must have taken it further in saying that it is illegal to listen to them period. Sad.

The TSA can’t do anything about it. It’s beyond their scope. If anything, the FCC would regulate this one, along with the FAA. But since all of those are taxpayer-funded, they would be hardpressed to find any support in limiting that.


They could find support by saying terrorists are listening in finding out traffic patterns and the public would go ballistic. Sorry, I didn’t mean to give the government ideas.

They tried that back in 2002. It didn’t get far at all. Not only did the AOPA and NATCA get involved, but ham radio operators got involved as well, as they saw it as an infringement on their right to operate their radios. It really fell flat on their faces…


And in most, if not all US States.

Uh, no. In the US you can legally listen to any radio broadcast you have the ability to monitor.

Disseminating what you heard can be illegal however.

The only frequencies in the US that I know are specifically banned from being monitored are cell phone frequencys. I assume that rule was created due to lobbying by cell phone providers to ease fears of eavesdropping.

This is right. You can listen to ATC band, Police band, EMS band, Ham, or any non-classified military band frequency in the US. Monitoring of any phone-based frequencies are banned due to wiretapping laws, and require a warrant (yes; screw the Patriot Act. they require a warrant).

Otherwise, there wouldn’t be the 20something iPhone and BB apps that do this, and,, and others would have been shut down years ago.


Curious about cordless phones (landline). When they were on the lower bands you could pick them up, no sure anymore. Is it legal either way?

i think its illegal to listen to any telephone conversation unless its a patch on ham frequencies

There are restrictions on scanner use or even possession in some states (not most as I thought):

I can see not using a scanner in the furtherance of a crime. Duh! That’s just common sense (something sorely lacking in today’s world).

But to say that using a scanner by the general public is illegal is just plain wrong! Scanners are a good way to get emergency information.

It looks like the FCC has declared that laws preventing people from using a scanner capable of receiving emergency bands are preempted by federal law.

Correct, the FCC jealously guards its position as the only government agency authorized to regulate the airwaves.

State laws regulating the use of radar detectors have been overthrown in court. VA is the sole remaining state that attempts to criminalize the possession of a radar detector. If pressed, they will drop the charge rather than allow the matter to go to trial where they would be sure to lose.

The same goes for various state laws that attempted to criminalize the possession and use of CB radios by motorists back in the 70’s.

(* The prohibition of the use of radar detectors by holders of commercial truck driving licenses [CDLs] is a Federal law.)