Does the FCC Get A SWAT Team?
You may not know it, but if you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cell phone 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.
Neat, huh? There you are putting your baby to sleep, then BAAAM!! BANG!! You can’t see, your baby is screaming, and you here “GET THE FUCK ON THE FLOOR OR I KILL YOU!” The FCC is coming to inspect your baby monitor. And if you have a dog, they will shoot it and leave its bloody carcass for you to clean up.
Okay, maybe a bit far fetched, but considering that small community police departments with 1 murder every decade are getting SWAT teams, armored personnel carriers, machine guns, and the like…maybe not all that too far fetched.
“Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference,” says FCC spokesman David Fiske. That includes devices like Wi-Fi routers that use unlicensed spectrum, Fiske says.
Fortunately the basis for this claim is untested in the courts. Further, here is Orin Kerr on the matter,
George Washington University professor Orin Kerr, a constitutional law expert, also questions the legalilty of the policy.
“The Supreme Court has said that the government can’t make warrantless entries into homes for administrative inspections,” Kerr said via e-mail, refering to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that housing inspectors needed warrants to force their way into private residences. The FCC’s online FAQ doesn’t explain how the agency gets around that ruling, Kerr adds.
And here is one wrinkle, if there is something that is illegal like say a marijuana plant, stolen property, etc. then that can be used against the resident even though the evidence is obtained via a warrantless search. If this is upheld I wouldn’t be at all surprised if local police departments don’t start trying to use this to get around obtaining warrants. In which case the FCC wont need a SWAT team, they’ll just use the local one.
Photo by Flickr user Brain Toad Photography, used under the Creative Commons License.