Samizdata has discovered that you can listen to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana police scanner on the web.

Emergency service radio frequencies are available to the news media in most parts of the United States, and listening to a scanner is part of routine journalism for American crime reporters.

The idea is that it holds police to account, and some journalists’ organisations are worried about the effect of digital encryption on this principle of openness.

That’s Freedom of Information taken seriously. Of course listening in to emergency service broadcasts is illegal in the United Kingdom under Section 5(1)(b)(i) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949.

Scanners themselves are not illegal, but if you do happen to use one to listen to a freqency you are not licensed to receive, it is a seperate offence in 5(1)(b)(ii) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 to disclose to anyone else what you have heard.