Index Home About Blog
Newsgroups: comp.risks
X-issue: 3.48
From: Phil Karn <karn@ka9q.bellcore.COM>
Subject: Randi, Popoff, and Data Privacy Laws
Date: 31 Aug 86 02:29:11 GMT
Organization: Bell Communications Research, Inc
Original-Subject: I wonder if the Congress considered this one

I picked up a copy of the magazine "Free Inquiry" at the bookstore today.
The cover article was written by James Randi (the magician who debunks lots
of ESP frauds). In fact, the magazine seems to be run by the same folks who
do the Skeptical Inquirer, but is slanted more towards religious debunking.

Randi's article was titled "Peter Popoff Reaches Heaven via 39.17
Megahertz".  Popoff is one of the most notorious TV faith healers.  Randi's
group went to the shows and noticed that Popoff wore a hearing aid. Then
they got a scanner and quickly found the frequency his wife was using to
tell him the names and ills of people whom she had pumped for information
before the show.

Now ponder the fact that the proposed Communications Privacy Act now pending
in the US Senate would have made this expose' illegal.  The conversation was
meant to be private, and Popoff certainly would have objected to its

Could there be a connection here? Hmm......

Newsgroups: comp.risks
X-issue: 14.01
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1992 02:29:38 GMT
From: (Phil Karn)
Subject: Re: Risks of Cellular Speech (RISKS-13.89)

> In a three-month study of the Metro Toronto area earlier this summer, Bell
> found that 80 percent of all cellular telephone traffic is monitored by third
> parties.  Even more eye-opening is the fact that 60 percent of monitored calls
> are taped for closer scrutiny and culling of marketable information.

I would very much like know how Bell Canada obtained these figures, given that
the monitoring of cellular telephone calls from the privacy of one's home is
essentially undetectable.

> After discussing privacy laws, legalities, and realities, Flinn notes that at
> Scanners Unlimited in San Carlos, CA, "about a quarter of the customers are
> interested in telephone eavesdropping."

This problem will soon be stopped cold, as Congress recently passed a law to
outlaw the manufacture of scanners capable of receiving cellular telephone
calls. A truly inspired solution to the problem, comparable to the "B-Ark"
people in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" burning down the forests to
solve the inflation problem caused by making leaves legal tender.

Index Home About Blog