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Have a Wi-Fi router? If you do — and it uses an unlicensed frequency — you could be subject to a warrantless search of your home.
Federal Communications Commission guidelines stipulate that the agency can enter property when it suspects radio frequency energy is being abused. The provision, which was originally intended to aid the monitoring of unlicensed radio and tv stations, now has a broader range of application as more consumers join the wi-fi ranks.
“The FCC claims it derives its warrantless search power from the Communications Act of 1934, though the constitutionality of the claim has gone untested in the courts,” Wired’s Ryan Singer wrote. “That’s largely because the FCC had little to do with average citizens for most of the last 75 years, when home transmitters were largely reserved to ham-radio operators and CB-radio aficionados. But in 2009, nearly every household in the United States has multiple devices that use radio waves and fall under the FCC’s purview, making the commission’s claimed authority ripe for a court challenge.”
The Electronic Frontier foundation, an online privacy group, called the FCC’s interpretation a “major stretch.”