Is Eavesdropping Here to Stay?
They may stealthily be listening to your conversations.
They may know about some of your intimate secrets. Do you have plans for next weekend? They may already know about them. Who are they? They are people who make it their hobby to monitor cordless-telephone conversations. If they want to, they can keep a written record with such information as your credit-card number, where you work, and your salary. In fact, they often have a book in which they log the names of people who regularly use cordless phones.
You may or may not know them. They could live just a few houses from you or miles away. In most countries, there is nothing illegal about this hobby, and it is quite easy to pursue.a
For a few hundred dollars, one can purchase a scanner radio and hook it up to an outside antenna. The scanner can pick up signals from a wide range of wireless communication devices. Some hobbyists prefer to use portable scanners. Their light weight and small size make it convenient just to roam around a neighborhood and listen in.
Under favorable atmospheric conditions, an operator with a scanner could listen to the paging system of a nearby hospital, the police department’s radio conversations, and home-intercom systems. When wireless microphones are used, as in some theater performances, the signals can easily be picked up by a scanner. Some hobbyists are equipped to eavesdrop on conversations from up to 60 miles [100 km] away!
What can you do to prevent these hobbyists from invading your privacy with their scanners? Not much if you use your cordless phone freely. Of course, there are expensive devices that can scramble telephone calls. But it would require that both you and the people you call have such equipment.
However, there is one thing you can do. When your conversations are of a confidential nature, do not use wireless devices such as cordless telephones. And make sure the second party also takes this precaution. Otherwise, your secrets will be floating in the air, just waiting for someone to listen in.
One thing you cannot do is take their hobby away. Even if you make it hard for them to listen in on you, they can easily find someone else. As long as people keep buying wireless devices and talking to others on them, right or wrong, the hobby of eavesdropping is here to stay!
a The monitoring of cellular-phone conversations is illegal in some countries, such as the United States, while the monitoring of conversations made on cordless phones is not.