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Old 03-28-2016, 8:13 PM
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Default NPR Radio Story on Police Radio Streaming

Police Radio Chatter Is Open To All Ears. But Should It Be?

Last week's terrorist attacks in Brussels have police in the U.S. reviewing their own preparedness, especially for the threat of multiple, coordinated attacks.

One question that often comes up is radio communications. In America, unlike Europe, most police radio chatter is on open frequencies.

Police Radio Chatter Is Open To All Ears. But Should It Be? : NPR
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Old 03-28-2016, 8:33 PM
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Heard this on the way home from work today. Glad to hear Bueermann give a pragmatic take on the subject.
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Old 03-28-2016, 9:14 PM
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This will turn into an encryption thread, but hey, it is an encryption thread, that's what the story was about.

Anyway...

While NPRs story was more fair than I expected and I'm glad LE community isn't completely against open communications it actually mentions what is the real problem, and unsolvable one too.

Internet streaming is the reason this is even a debate and a story. Back when it was just "journalists and hobbyists" it really was too much of a hassle for average citizen to listen in. These days with the internet anyone can and does. And don't get me wrong. So do I. I even use the archive feature to play a recording of an incident on a radio system I monitor at home. But internet streaming forever changed this hobby and we have to remember that.

I was really happy how the speaker from the LE organization mentioned that most agencies only encrypt sensitive channels (Narcotics, SWAT) which I believe should be a national standard, not through legislation, because it will never happen but through voluntary transparency. I'm just throwing things out there but these days agencies are trying to become more transparent due to higher scrutiny from the public, broadcast dispatch in the clear and you just did that, at close to zero cost. Would be nice if organizations that evaluate LEAs started looking at that as positive thing and encourage it.

I was also happy to hear about the problems with interoperability that come with encryption. Not only you are tuning out the public, you are tuning out surrounding departments. Many departments just don't care. That's the real issue. I would add this to what evaluation agencies (etc. CALEA) look at too. It's bad practice and it should be stigmatized.

Now to mention Europe. I lived in Europe for a quite a long time, and yes I did scan there (in a very gray legal area). Many European countries have nation-wide TETRA based system. Those usually work adequately but a lot of them aren't unmonitorable by design but rather because there is no readily available technology to listen. Security by obscurity. And that led some agencies, to not put encryption in their system. Now with SDRs, suddenly if you have some time and skill, you can listen to them too. Now that is probably more of an exception than a rule but gives you of their sense of importance when it comes to security. Another thing to note with Europe is their lack of transparency, especially when it comes to Law Enforcement. The secretive nature of how European Law Enforcement operates isn't something the American public would like to see. Imagine never seeing police reports, court files and other documents routinely accessed by media via Freedom of Information requests. No such thing in most European countries. You get only what the PIO gives you, and usually they don't give you much.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:04 PM
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The very foundation of United States of America was and is based on openly and honestly knowing what the Lord of the Manor is doing, and that everyone knows and can speak to what is right and fair to all, under his wing, hence a open Judiciary with honest Capitalism.

In the foundations of Feudal States and further with Communism, they constantly stepped backwards and continued to make the same mistakes, Security over there has always been hidden and done privately. What the terrorist attacks prove is that no amount of ENCryption will stop the Attacks, nor will it play an important role in defeating an ideologue that's willing to use their life as pawns for/with their beliefs. (No amount of security, can secure everywhere, all the time)

2 lookouts and 2 cell phones can defeat encryption any day, what happens when we find out the terrorist have the Enigma Machine to said ENCrypted Comms, and that LEO had no knowledge or presence of mind to think what they said over-the-air could be heared.

It's sad commentary to think spending Billions more on ENCryption, while it can still be defeated with a couple of burner phones and a couple eyes ears & mouths.

Spending Billions on Education is far more important and helps get to the root of the ideologues stupidity, enlightening younger people is far more important, to stop the stupidty, here and now, sooner rather than later.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:07 PM
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As a feed provider, we wanted to chime in on this moot point. We are aware of the in's and out's of the technology that is utilized by public safety on a daily basis and the thought of a department going "silent" on the surface seems reasonable to some, but all going encrypted does is make it illegal to monitor...there are still ways for people to listen to encrypted signals, encryption modulation just criminalizes it…so much for transparency! Also, a criminal would not be very bright to use a scanner app when committing crimes as there is a delay of sometimes up to a few minutes (server latency, old processor/hardware, etc.) and by the time the criminal hears the officers talking, he is already in custody. Further, in the last 6+ years that South Bay Scanner has been streaming, there has been little push back...in fact, we have developed a good working rapport with some of the agencies we monitor on our feed who acknowledge our feed as a legitimate source of information.
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Old 03-29-2016, 7:29 AM
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I remember when I was on the local first aid squad listening to some of the local departments that are full time encrypted. In my county, most agency's use the same key while on different frequencies. I am not sure how it works, just that it does. My squad was given a single radio that could not transmit, but was unlocked to monitor several local towns, as well as our own town which was only part time encrypted [if a NCIC hit came back or if they knew someone may have a scanner while committing a crime.] The squad as an entity was authorized to listen at the building only and not permitted to stream or anything.

The things we could hear on that radio were scary. At times officers would trash talk thinking nobody was going to hear them, and not just the last person they stopped, but members of local squads, firefighters, even some of their own guys who had completed their shift and gone home. Other times officers would talk about what reason they could use to stop and mess with random people. It was rather unnerving traveling through those areas knowing how unprofessional those departments were.
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Old 03-29-2016, 7:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOUTHBAYSCANNER View Post
As a feed provider, we wanted to chime in on this moot point. We are aware of the in's and out's of the technology that is utilized by public safety on a daily basis and the thought of a department going "silent" on the surface seems reasonable to some, but all going encrypted does is make it illegal to monitor...there are still ways for people to listen to encrypted signals, encryption modulation just criminalizes it…so much for transparency! Also, a criminal would not be very bright to use a scanner app when committing crimes as there is a delay of sometimes up to a few minutes (server latency, old processor/hardware, etc.) and by the time the criminal hears the officers talking, he is already in custody. Further, in the last 6+ years that South Bay Scanner has been streaming, there has been little push back...in fact, we have developed a good working rapport with some of the agencies we monitor on our feed who acknowledge our feed as a legitimate source of information.
And all it will take is a new boss from council up to the police chief to make the decision to turn on the encryption. I have questions for you and all other streamers. Do you yourself enjoy listening to your scanner? Hasn't it been a hobby for you? Why would you jeopardize your own hobby and the enjoyment of all others who put so much time into there hobby? This I know; the police chief could care less about our hobby. The streaming has no practical place in our society. Who does it benefit?
Does it make you feel BIG to be the one re-broadcasting the LE agency. If you have any ethical morals, you will feel pretty small when everything goes silent.

That my feeling and I'm sticking with it !!!!

Chuck
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Old 03-29-2016, 8:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOUTHBAYSCANNER View Post
As a feed provider, we wanted to chime in on this moot point. We are aware of the in's and out's of the technology that is utilized by public safety on a daily basis and the thought of a department going "silent" on the surface seems reasonable to some, but all going encrypted does is make it illegal to monitor...there are still ways for people to listen to encrypted signals, encryption modulation just criminalizes itůso much for transparency! Also, a criminal would not be very bright to use a scanner app when committing crimes as there is a delay of sometimes up to a few minutes (server latency, old processor/hardware, etc.) and by the time the criminal hears the officers talking, he is already in custody. Further, in the last 6+ years that South Bay Scanner has been streaming, there has been little push back...in fact, we have developed a good working rapport with some of the agencies we monitor on our feed who acknowledge our feed as a legitimate source of information.
...and to add to your information, most streamers such as Broadcastify prohibit you from streaming anything other than the main dispatch channels...they do not want you streaming tactical, command, etc, typically the channels that would be used for operations and the one's that would be of real value to the bad guys...
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Old 03-29-2016, 9:03 AM
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Originally Posted by cpetraglia View Post
........Who does it benefit?........

Chuck
While not listening to South Bay, i do listen to the local feed when the need arises. |So to answer your question, it benefits me.

I also know many of the local VFD listen to the feed as well as they get more information about the calls they are headed to then is offered over the VFD page out system.

Cheers,
Joe
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Old 03-29-2016, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackets View Post
While not listening to South Bay, i do listen to the local feed when the need arises. |So to answer your question, it benefits me.

I also know many of the local VFD listen to the feed as well as they get more information about the calls they are headed to then is offered over the VFD page out system.

Cheers,
Joe
And how will you feel when it goes silent? Also I do believe the VFD members you spoke about got along just fine before Broadcastify. They had pagers and many have PS radios. I'm not really trying to start a war here. About three years ago, I lost one of my favorite LE agencies to encryption (DC PD) when the Chief explained exactly why they did it. Burglars caught in the act with I-phones listening in. I have been enjoying my hobby for almost 50 years and am not at all happy about the rampant streaming.

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Old 03-29-2016, 11:16 AM
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And how do you feel when Billions are spent when ENCryption can be defeated by 4 dudes with cell phones worth $80 dollars to make their crime happen. Look what 2 people did in Boston or San Bernadino without lookouts. You think another $10 Billion with a B to Motorola or Harris is going to stop that. Spend the money on Education not reactionary useless anti American policies, it sure didn't stop the Brussels Attack, now did it!

Last edited by darunimal; 03-29-2016 at 11:26 AM.. Reason: There their
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:25 AM
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How did the Navy Yard shooting get stopped with said encryption, it didn't. 17 agencies had to go in almost blind and just buddy up on their own (on scene w no command structure for over an hour), with 2 Helos flying all but blind except to each other. The Incident took over 4hrs to rap up because NO ONE had good comm's with anyone or any other agency for that fact. Their justification for Encryption failed miserably that day, one of the things that help Un-Encrypt their Fire EMS comm's along with the Metro Smoke related Death 2 years later.
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:30 AM
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HERE HERE !!!! I second that.
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Old 03-29-2016, 1:20 PM
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What the NPR article fails to mention is that encryption does not have to be expensive. Software based algorithms like ADP/ARC-4, while weak from a cipher standpoint, are enough to stop streamers and the masses dead in their tracks.

It's included on all the major vendors' subscribers offerings these days, requires no overhead on the FNE, doesn't degrade DAQ, doesn't require complex key management/keyfill devices, and it is generally compatible among different vendors products (I can say this is true with the EFJ VP600/900 software encryption working well with our Motorola 7.xx system and APX/XTS radios).

Coordinating the sharing of encryption keys/KIDs/UKEK's can be a challenge, but no different than sharing trunked system keys or even MOU's to allow other users on a radio system.

Typical poorly written article, a common product these days of the mass media.
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Old 03-29-2016, 1:41 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hear%2C_hear
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Old 03-30-2016, 5:51 AM
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what gets me is how all the radio managers get on here all butthurt that someone even dares to challenge them and their infinite wisdom
now saying that streaming is a double edged sword and i can understand some issues, but both sides have dug in for the long run on this one
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Old 03-30-2016, 7:03 AM
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what gets me is how all the radio managers get on here all butthurt that someone even dares to challenge them and their infinite wisdom
now saying that streaming is a double edged sword and i can understand some issues, but both sides have dug in for the long run on this one
Yes, I have been on the negative side of streaming for some time now. When a person spends thousands of dollars on scanners and associated hardware and works very hard to overcome simulcast distortion, pays dues to RR for 13 years then only to have it taken away because of Broadcastify, I get pissed. No one can deny it's happening all over. There must be some decent profits in providing this. One person said that he benefits from listing to some LE agency. What I say to him is buy a scanner and learn how to set it up. It will sound better and have many more features than an I-Phone. I am just baffled by the selfishness and stupidly of it all. OUR HOBBY IS GOING AWAY. !!!!!
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Old 03-30-2016, 8:12 AM
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Admittedly, this is an edge case, but I know of several people that used to live in my city and still have family here, however, they moved away (far away) but still like to keep up with what is going on here. By listening to a broadcastify feed, they are able to do that. Just telling people to go out and get a scanners does not necessarily help everyone. Personally, I use a scanner because the audio is better, the feed is not delayed, and I have control over which channels I listen to.
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Old 03-30-2016, 9:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpetraglia View Post
Yes, I have been on the negative side of streaming for some time now. When a person spends thousands of dollars on scanners and associated hardware and works very hard to overcome simulcast distortion, pays dues to RR for 13 years then only to have it taken away because of Broadcastify, I get pissed. No one can deny it's happening all over. There must be some decent profits in providing this. One person said that he benefits from listing to some LE agency. What I say to him is buy a scanner and learn how to set it up. It will sound better and have many more features than an I-Phone. I am just baffled by the selfishness and stupidly of it all. OUR HOBBY IS GOING AWAY. !!!!!
Forget your hobby, no offense, it is my living. Monitoring public safety helps me feed my kids, while informing the public of what goes on around them. It is really hard to photograph the scene of a shooting or bank robbery if you're waiting for the PIO to keep you in the loop.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:19 AM
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Forget your hobby, no offense, it is my living. Monitoring public safety helps me feed my kids, while informing the public of what goes on around them. It is really hard to photograph the scene of a shooting or bank robbery if you're waiting for the PIO to keep you in the loop.
I'm not going to forget my hobby, I am going to fight for it. What did you do before Broadcastify? You listened to a scanner as does most media. You may have a small jurisdiction to keep up with. Around here, the County feed contains 6 county TGs and 3 local city and town TGs. All are very busy. You would not be able to follow one incident anyway. But were all going to loose it to encryption. There is already talk from a local county oversight group criticizing the PDs for not using enough encryption.
Feeds are mentioned and will play a role in me losing what I have been enjoying for 45 years.
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