interception of pager messages

interception of pager messages

Post by Eric Serverso » Thu, 16 Jul 1998 04:00:00

Las summer I was going to purchase the  M400 from Universal Radio.
Other things came up, and I got out of the scanning hobby.
A year later, I went to the Universal Radio webpage and found this

NOTICE:  Pending clarification of current telecommunications law, the
                 sale of this device is currently restricted to
qualifying commercial,
                 government or export customers.

I wondered "what happened?"  So  I search for news articles on the
found this news item:

[ six128.txt 3K ]

              From the December 8, 1997 issue of Wireless Week

                         'Pagergate' Feeds Concern

By Monica Alleven

Law enforcement and privacy-minded businesses may think twice about sending
sensitive information over pagers after "Operation Pagergate" led to the
guilty pleas of three men in New York last month.

"The unauthorized interception of alphanumeric pager messages is a criminal
invasion of privacy comparable to wiretapping someone else's telephone,"
said Daniel Fetterman, assistant U.S. attorney for the Second District of
New York.

Breaking News Network Inc. and its owners, Steven Gessman and Robert
Gessman, and the general manager, Vinnie Martin, pleaded guilty Nov. 20 in
Manhattan federal court to charges related to intercepting alphanumeric
pager messages intended for the New York Police Department and Fire
Department of New York.

BNN, which advertises its news-gathering and dissemination services on its
Web site, is still in business. However, Martin said last week he could not
comment on the case until the defendants' March 3 sentencing.

Prior to the NYPD investigation, code-named Operation Pagergate, New York
police sent some messages via pager because they were considered too
sensitive for police radios. The messages included the locations of
high-level government officials and crime witnesses, the arrests and
suspensions of police employees and police mobilization points.

BNN, apparently with the help of defendant Jeffrey Moss, could intercept
those and other messages. The company pleaded guilty to illegally
manufacturing, assembling and possessing software and cloned pagers, and
the three men pleaded guilty to intercepting alphanumeric pager messages
sent between members of the NYPD and FDNY.

The company faces a maximum fine of $500,000, while the individuals each
face a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine on each of
two counts.

According to the original complaint, Moss, a former BNN dispatcher whose
case is pending, told authorities he cloned three pagers that intercepted
police, fire and emergency services messages. Pagers may be cloned by
duplicating the capcode from the original pager into another unit, so the
clone is capable of receiving the same messages.

Moss demonstrated for detectives how he used a scanner, computer, upgraded
version of "Message Tracker" software and a Motorola Inc. kit to intercept
pages, the complaint said.

Authorities in New York said they believed the case was a first.
Alphanumeric pager messages are protected under the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act of 1986.

In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New
York Mary Jo White said the incident should serve as a wake-up call for
public, business and law enforcement agencies who use pagers. "No
governmental agency or business is immune from this illegal monitoring,"
she said.

Industry sources say most pager users remain unaffected. "It's not an issue
for 99 percent of the people," said Robert Hoggarth, senior vice president
of paging and narrowband at the Personal Communications Industry
Association. He added, "I really don't care if you overhear my ...
conversation about picking up milk for my wife or what time a meeting is
going to take place."


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