HB 5194 Discussion Points and Frequently Asked Questions
Purpose of 20 ILCS 26115/11 – Rebroadcast


The intent of the legislation is not to impede the appropriate, and even beneficial, use of
information monitored by private citizens via use of scanning radios (in fact, the Amber
Alert language is included as an example of appropriate extension to the public of
intercepted traffic). Media rebroadcast of general information in regard to a fire
department’s response to a major fire; suggesting motorists use an alternate route to avoid
the scene, and other similar beneficial use, need not be a casualty of this legislation.
Neither would the post-incident “publishing” of a general public safety response to an
incident (fire, accident, etc.) based on intercepted radio traffic.
Realistically, the State does not have the resources to develop and maintain an
authorization-tracking mechanism to address legitimate news services. Attempts to add
verbiage to further define allowable use of intercepted traffic will result in the creation of
loopholes to legitimize illegitimate uses.

The intent of the legislation is to:
1. Ensure the safety of the officers using the police radio by keeping it from becoming a
tool to be used against them; examples of such activity:
a. sharing police location information with a fleeing suspect, fugitive, etc.;
b. Using officer location and activity information (as gained from monitoring traffic) to
organize and coordinate illicit activities at times/locations where police response
will be delayed; and
c. Using officer location and activity information (as gained from monitoring traffic) to
organize and coordinate an ambush of public safety personnel responding to a false
crime-in-process report.
2. Allow local citizens who use scanners to monitor police radio traffic for their own
information, entertainment, or sense of security to continue to do so; and
3. Maintain the integrity of public safety radio system; and
4. Protect the safety of the citizens by not allowing access to local radio traffic to a
worldwide anonymous audience via the internet – potentially supporting the efforts of
terrorists and enemies of the state to study the public safety operations and procedures
they will address in planning an attack against this state.

NOTE: ISP’s position is that local, “off-the-air” interception of public safety radio
broadcasts by the local citizenry using scanning radio equipment should not
be affected by this legislation; unless intentional support of a criminal act is
involved or results.

Purpose of 20 ILCS 26115/12 – Cloning


The language of 20 ILCS 2615/12 (cloning) was developed as the result of the
software/computer-based trunking radio components of the STARCOM21 voice radio
system. In reality, interference and non-official use of public safety frequencies has been
occurring as long as police and fire-fighters have been using (and losing) portable radios.
Last year’s unauthorized use of a cloned radio on STARCOM21 (for demonstration and
sales/marketing purposes) actually served as the impetus for the drafting of the language.
The scope of the bill extends beyond just STARCOM21 to include all public safety
bandwidth within the state.

Bottom Line:

Legislation is applicable to all public safety frequencies, not just STARCOM21.
For example: legal access to ISPERN (high-band frequency of 155.475MHz, licensed to
the Illinois State Police) may only be done upon receipt of written authorization granted by
the Director of the ISP, or his delegate.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Can citizens continue to monitor public safety radio transmissions on
commercial scanners?
A. Yes; there is no violation of this legislation.
Q. Can HAM radio enthusiast continue to rebroadcast information over-heard on
scanners in the interest of public safety?
A. Yes; weather spotters, AMBER alerts, and alerts during critical incidents related
to public safety, awareness, and assistance are exempt in paragraph (b).
Q. Can public safety agencies and responders retransmit information from one
public safety information source to another via licensed radio networks?
A. Yes; advanced written authorization would not be required.
Q. Can print media use information gathered via scanners to “publish” incident
A. Yes; advanced written authorization would not be required.
Q. Can “on-air” media sources report on information gathered via public safety
A. Yes; advanced written authorization would not be required.