Are Police Scanners Legal in Canada?
For many decades, police have used specific radio frequencies to communicate. Today, devices called “Police Scanners” are available for purchase that allow you to tune in to this frequency. These may also be referred to as frequency counters, as they are able to count the wavelengths of a signal to lock onto a wide range of frequencies. This allows you to search for unknown frequencies and lock in on them.
A question that is often asked is whether these Police Scanners are legal in Canada?
Traditional radios allow you to tune in to a range of AM and FM frequencies. These typical frequencies are just a small number of the massive range of radio frequencies available, that not only police but also other emergency services, railway operations, airlines and more use.
So is it legal to use one of these devices?
Owning and operating a frequency counter is not a crime in Canada. Radio hobbyists have owned these devices for years and continue to use them to pick up and listen to transmitted signals. Open air signals, provided they are not encrypted, are allowed to be intercepted and listened to. However, the information within these signals is not allowed to be divulged, and must be treated as private. They should not be intercepted with the intent of committing a crime or circumventing the law. You may also not benefit from these signals in any way, such as through social media or other mediums.
Many modern law enforcement signals involve encryption methods. If a radio signal is sent with encryption, it becomes illegal to decode the signal and listen to it.
So, with this information, yes, police scanners are legal in Canada and yes you may purchase one. Just make sure whatever you are using it for is legal and allowed.