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Old 07-29-2009, 6:22 PM
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Exclamation Sticky: Digital Scanner License

For those who have asked (and asked... and asked) regarding this issue, here is some information to clear it up.

You do not require any special licenses, permits or authorization to purchase, possess or use a Digital Scanner in Canada. No application form exists to allow one to apply for such a license, and despite what certain Toronto-area amateur radio retailers have been telling their customers over the years, you do not need to be an amateur radio operator, paramedic, government official or be in possession of a current CPR and/or First Aid certification to purchase one.

Here is where the confusion started......

On November 27, 1996, Industry Canada released IPC-2-1-04, an Internal Procedures Circular entitled "Licensing of Digital Scanner Receivers." (available to view here: http://www.muircom.com/scnrpics/digiscanner.pdf )

In this circular, it states that Section 5 of the Radiocommunication Act gives Industry Canada the authority to issue "authorizations for Radio Communcations."

The circular also states: "In an effort to protect the privacy of individuals, users of digital scanner receivers capable of receiving radiocommunication must obtain a licence as prescribed in the
Radiocommunication Act. This does not include digital scanner receivers capable only of the
reception of broadcasting."


The justification for licensing comes from the fear that new technologies (presumably digital scanners) would compromise the privacy 'of consumers'. What exactly they are referring to is anyone's guess.

The circular also states that digital scanner licenses would only be issued, (decided on a case-by-case basis), to those:

(a) preserving or protecting life and property which includes providing emergency assistance;

(b) investigating or prosecuting an alleged contravention of any law of Canada or a province, or when intended to be in the interests of the administration of justice;

(c) managing the radio-frequency spectrum for the purpose of identifying, isolating or preventing an unauthorized or interfering use of a transmission;

(d) ensuring the security and integrity of communications and communications systems;

(e) conducting the business of any communication station or system through which such communication is transmitted or received;

(f) carrying out international affairs, national defence or security on behalf of Her Majesty in the right of Canada; or

(g) operating radio apparatus in the amateur radio service.


Those who do not meet these guidelines would be considered, but only if they were able to show proof that it is in the common interest that a license be issued to them.

That was 1996, and to date no other relevant information has been released from Industry Canada regarding the licensing digital scanners.

Before people start screaming that the wording in this circular exempts them from owning a digital scanner, read the paragraph on page two of the circular:

Internal Procedures Circulars are issued for the guidance ofdepartmental staff. Although intended for internal use only, they are also available to the public. The information contained in these circulars is subject to change without notice. It is therefore suggested that interested persons consult the nearest district office of Industry Canada for additional details. While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure accuracy, no warranty is expressed or implied. As well, these circulars have no status in law. (emphasis mine)

Several members of both RR and Scanont have contacted Industry Canada over the past thirteen years trying to get information on the status of digital scanners in Canada. Various answers have been received, ranging from denying that a license is required, to vehemently stating that you must possess a license.

One such correspondance in 2006took place between a member of Scanont and a Caroline Kennedy, an Eastern Ontario Spectrum Management Officer with Industry Canada. In her email to the Scanont member, Ms. Kennedy provided a link (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst...g/sf01264.html) with information on how to apply for a digital scanner license. The link is currently dead. Ms. Kennedy also stated that, by 2006, only 'two' digital scanners have been licensed in Canada (she would not divulge who owned the licenses), and stated that licenses would absolutely not be issued unless the aformentioned criteria was met.

Adding to the confusion, RSS-135, a Radio Standards Specificiations sheet entitled "Digital Radio Scanners" (also dated in 1996) (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/rss135.pdf/$FILE/rss135.pdf), which states that digital scanners absolutely require a license.

So what does all this mean? It's simple: vague mentions of a license in thirteen year old circulars, nor decrees from employees of the Federal Government do not make for public policy. So far, no one has produced either one of two things:

a) Legislation stating that a license or permit is required to possess or purchase a Digital radio scanner

b) A definitive process for applying for a Digital Scanner License (such as an application form)

So, until these conditions are met, digital scanners continue to be safe to buy and use in Canada, and do not require a permit.

As soon as Mike Oxlong is able to, he will be making this post a sticky. Hopefully it will help those who still have questions regarding the legality of Digital Scanners in Canada.
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Old 07-30-2009, 12:56 PM
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Updated information from Industry Canada from June 2009:
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications - RSS-215 - Analogue Scanner Receivers
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications - RSS-135 - Digital Scanner Receivers
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Old 07-30-2009, 4:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maplebear View Post
Updated information from Industry Canada from June 2009:
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications - RSS-215 - Analogue Scanner Receivers
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications - RSS-135 - Digital Scanner Receivers
Here are the links
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications - RSS-215 - Analogue Scanner Receivers
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications - RSS-135 - Digital Scanner Receivers
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Old 07-30-2009, 5:45 PM
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Offers no new information. The link to RSS-135 is pretty much the same as the link to the 1996 version of RSS-135 I posted in my original message. It's more directed to manufacturers than end-users, and provides no information on licensing.

I've sent a letter to Tony Clement regarding this issue.... Him and I did some work together in his early days as an MPP in Brampton, hopefully he'll remember my name and drop everything to help us out
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Old 07-30-2009, 6:39 PM
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Where would the scanners that we are using fit in?
Analogue scanner receiver is a scanner receiver capable of decoding only analogue signals.
Digital scanner receiver is a scanner receiver capable of decoding only digital signals.
Scanner Receiver is any receiver capable of automatically scanning a frequency band, or several frequency bands, for radio frequency (RF) signals, or a manually tunable receiver that employs programmable or preset channel frequencies and decodes the messages that are transmitted by other parties on those frequencies.

Last edited by maplebear; 07-30-2009 at 6:51 PM..
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Old 08-03-2009, 3:25 PM
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I think what this boils down to is that some group inside Industry Canada started to work on a licensing program to scanners, then someone higher up told them to stop.
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Old 08-03-2009, 3:38 PM
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What it boiled down to is fear of a scanner that would allow people to listen in on digital cellular communications.
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Old 08-03-2009, 5:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOxlong View Post
What it boiled down to is fear of a scanner that would allow people to listen in on digital cellular communications.
Well of course, but I am talking about this circular got out to the wild in the first place.
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Old 08-03-2009, 8:16 PM
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It got out to the wild when digital cellular started to be introduced in the mid 1990's.

At that point, Industry Canada did not want to enact legislation similar to the United States ECPA so they came up with their digital scanner licence idea and released the circulars.

People were curious as to how they could listen to these new PCS phones since analog cell phone conversations could be quite interesting at times. That's when the IPC started to circulate in the hobbiest circles followed soon after by the RSS'.

Digital public safety communications was still in it's infancy and was hardly used at all for regular dispatch purposes.
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Old 10-14-2009, 4:37 AM
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i just picked up a psr500c from durham radio last saturday and they said that unless i didnt fill out the license,they wouldnt sell me the scanner.i told them that it was a crock of ####,and the license consisted of a photocopied sheet of paper that needed your name,addy and get this...your drivers license.thats it! nothing with "Industry Canada" on it.absolute joke.......
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Old 10-14-2009, 9:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigcam406 View Post
i just picked up a psr500c from durham radio last saturday and they said that unless i didnt fill out the license,they wouldnt sell me the scanner.i told them that it was a crock of ####,and the license consisted of a photocopied sheet of paper that needed your name,addy and get this...your drivers license.thats it! nothing with "Industry Canada" on it.absolute joke.......
I'm suprised you didn't have to have a vial of blood taken as well ,or get a digital exam!

Just wondering if they include this photocopy in their mail orders, and do people actually return the forms from their mail orders?
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Old 10-14-2009, 1:06 PM
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Should have ordered it from Lectron Radio Sales. I ordered the PSR-300 a couple of weeks ago from them and liked it so much that I decided that my old Pro 96 needed to be replaced so I ordered the PSR-500 yesterday . No mention of any digital license to me. I can't believe Durham is still peddling that misinformation.
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Old 10-14-2009, 7:05 PM
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well,lets just say i was surprised when they told me that i had to fill it out.i also mentioned that if i bought it mail order i wouldnt have to fill it out.the counterperson told me that industry canada does makes visits,and checks for proof of sales of digital scanners,and they apparently look over the "licenses" and go on their merry way.
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Old 10-14-2009, 7:38 PM
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This is the first I have heard that Durham Radio was doing it. I know RadioWorld was doing it and being a real jerk to people about the license too.
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Old 10-14-2009, 7:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KE7JFF View Post
This is the first I have heard that Durham Radio was doing it. I know RadioWorld was doing it and being a real jerk to people about the license too.
I find it is awful strange that there is no mention on Radio World's or Durham's site of any industry Canada License required to purchase Digital scanners

What a bunch of crap.. Folks just order your radios over phone or online and don't deal with Jerks like these two companies.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:43 AM
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Order from the states and save 200+ dollars. The mark-up in Canada isnt worth it at all.
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Old 10-18-2009, 10:46 PM
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So can you like.. ask radioworld to give proof that IC makes them fill these out when they sell a digital radio? Is there a price for them or anything.. or do they just want to know who has a digital radio in what areas for sure kinda deal?
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Old 10-18-2009, 10:52 PM
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They just make you fill out the paperwork, there's no additional cost involved apart from disclosing all of your personal information.
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Old 10-19-2009, 5:36 PM
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now what if I have a frequency of my own or if I am a member of a emergency service
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Old 10-19-2009, 5:53 PM
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If you have a frequency of your "own", then you are licensed to use that frequency.

If you are a member of an emergency service, then you are covered under your employer's license to use whatever frequencies they give you access to in the course of completing your daily duties.
 

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