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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 07-13-2017, 7:37 AM
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Encryption is legal for business comms. If you want/need to have a private conversation, license as a business and encrypt all you want.
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 07-13-2017, 7:38 AM
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If an agency needs communications for its activities that are a usual part of its operation and require more than amateur radio can lawfully provide, then their request for support for those activities should be declined by ham operators.

In the first instance, the regs prohibit ham radio use for the day-to-day business of an agency. If their day-to-day operations require total encryption, then even when those functions are being performed at a special event, they are beyond the scope of anything hams can do.

Secondly, of course, the use of encryption for any purpose not permitted in Part 97 is a violation.

I think many so-called "public service events" skirt the edges of Part 97.
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Old 07-13-2017, 2:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KD8DVR View Post
Some repeaters let you dial into them via a telephone. (or log into them via internet control) The control op can then log in and issue commands that way. If someone is so concerned about security, then they need a controller that can operate that way.
That is all fine and dandy if you have phone, or internet at the site.
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Old 07-13-2017, 2:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mrweather View Post
Many (most?) repeater controllers send cover tones when someone uses DTMF. Problem solved.
umm not on the input, so problem not solved.
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Old 07-13-2017, 5:58 PM
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Originally Posted by KC4RAF View Post
As Steve posted, there's a huge difference. With encryption, only one or very few select people can copy. And THAT is not the intent of amateur radio what so ever!
Also as Steve pointed out, a person can go to their local amateur radio dealer and buy a digital transceiver and listen in.
Also, CW in no manner is encryption. All a person has to do is study the Morse code and copy what is being transmitted.
I would hate to see the day come, (and it will not happen) when amateurs' are allowed to encryption their transmission. If someone wants to talk in private, all they have to do is pick up the telephone and talk all they want with out anyone hearing them, (other than NSA, or other 3 letter government agencies) hearing what they need said in privacy!
Tell me, just WHY do you want amateur radios to be able to transmit encryption? Seriously, why???
But digital is in no manner encryption either-I was replying to the claim that digital voice was just like encryption as some could not copy it and that that argument was a failure--in no way did I mean to imply cw was encryption--I could have used ordinary RTTY as a better comparison. In one case it is skill and in the other it is equipment. Really makes no difference as one can be easily replaced by the other. Yes, I also believe encryption has no place in amateur radio. But digital voice, which is not encrypted, does have a place. The argument I objected to would even have prevented the development of single sideband.
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teufler View Post
kc4raf: there are times when we perform ares or Cert stuff when transmitting for the agency we are supporting that confidential matters pertaining to minors or health and welfare, they are agency normal requirements that require this.
Around here, in Ft. Lauderdale/Pompano, Cert has about 10 freq's they use, & they are all in the 450-470 band, so encryption would be legal. They do not use ham freq's, although the users are hams.
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Old 07-14-2017, 7:18 PM
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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
kc4raf: there are times when we perform ares or Cert stuff when transmitting for the agency we are supporting that confidential matters pertaining to minors or health and welfare, they are agency normal requirements that require this.
That sounds like an issue with the agency you are working for, as others have said.

Names and health information can be transmitted in the clear without violating HIPAA rules. Sounds like there may be some confusion over this.

While it's nice that your group is trying to keep things private, amateur radio isn't the place for private conversations.

The agency that is asking you to handle this sort of traffic over amateur radio apparently isn't too aware of what the rules are. If they are requesting you use encryption on amateur radio frequencies, whoever is running your group needs to explain the rules to them.


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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
When we do car rally support, if an accident involving injuries to a driver, no driver names are to be transmitted over the net at any time.
Again, not a requirement under HIPAA rules. If your group has made this part of their SOP, and they don't have a proper solution, then they need to take a closer look at this.


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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
We are forced to use cell phone which requires net to handle two methods of comms. The radio and a cell phone at sometimes the same time.
Handling two forms of communications at the same time should be a requirement of any network control person. If they are understaffed, that's something that needs to be addressed.
A cell phone is an excellent resource if privacy is your concern. Asking amateur radio rules to be changed to support an agency that is expecting hams to provide emergency communications, isn't.
Many police agencies will use cell phones for handling sensitive traffic. I don't understand why amateur radio rules need to be changed?

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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
Sure other hams can listen in, though to be 100% sure, they would have to carry 5 radios. True there are a few hams that report in who carry 4 or 5 radios. Agencies who see this , they refere to those volunteers as "Billy Blue Lights".
AKA: Whackers, Ricky Rescue, Wannabe, etc. Anyone trying to listen to 5 radios and expecting to be effective is probably not doing a very good job. Some professional 911 dispatchers can do it, but not reliably. Usually one or two radios are"select" and at a higher volume with the rest "unselect" and at a lower volume. Rarely are they expected to actually be handling traffic reliably on more than one or two channels at a time.


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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
The FCC has not been moved to accept these arguments by others yet. In a net operations, a channel can be preset with whatever the encryption scheme would be, and the general public would not be able to listen in.
And moved they probably shouldn't be. This isn't the purpose of amateur radio.

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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
This would satisfy most agencies that are being supported.
Someone (maybe you?) need to manage their expectations. Amateur radio doesn't allow encryption. Expecting the FCC to change the rules so a public safety agency can utilize amateur radio for their operations gets into the slippery slope area.

If encryption is allowed on amateur radio, then what's to keep anyone from doing it, license or not? The beauty of amateur radio is everyone can participate and communications are truly open. Common platform/standards are what's needed. What is getting public safety agencies into trouble is complex communications systems that are difficult to manage on the fly. Unfortunately amateur radio operators are falling into this also. There's no common digital standard for amateur use, very little coordination, and getting encryption keys out to a bunch of volunteers is going to likely blow any reality of privacy.

Also, expecting amateur radio operators to spend money on new radios that will support encryption probably won't go very well. In this day and age many amateurs are quite content with their $25 Chinese radio. Getting some new hams to buy a new commercial radio with higher end features is going to be hard to do. If the club/agency is going to fund the new radios, they'd be better off using Part 90 frequencies where encryption is perfectly legal.

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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
I am not trying to get in an argumen
I hear you, and please don't take my comments as an argument. Only providing an alternate point of view to consider.

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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
... as confidential comms have been presented to the FCC many times before and deaf ears have maybe listened.
I wouldn't necessarily assume those ears were deaf. Just because some didn't agree with the ruling doesn't mean the ruling was wrong. FCC may be trying to keep amateur radio connected to it's roots. Trying to expand it into an extension of public safety radio systems would lead to a bunch of issues that amateurs probably don't realize. And, in reality, it isn't needed. HIPAA rules don't require it, and public safety agencies shouldn't be expecting it.

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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
Hams have offered services that agencies could not provide for many years. First we had repeaters, agencies were in many areas just simplex . Repeaters gave them greater and clearer comms., Then we offered auto patch, or phone contact before there were cell phones. This was helpful for those who had needs to talk to others whop were not radio savey. , Then we offered slow scan tv, or the providing of images, which was a great benefits. Pictures of a scene were for more descriptive than words said. We had repeater linking, providing wider area comms. Agencies now have repeaters, cell phones that carry voice and pictures, trunking that offers wider coverage or in some states state wide comms. We have adapted DMR , but no encryption and now they have encrypted comms while we as hams sit on the side.
How do you mean "sit on the side"? Amateur radio operators are not public safety professionals. They are hobbyists. A 70% passing score on a 35 question multiple choice test and a <$100 Chinese radio doesn't make someone a public safety professional. Amateur radio operators are communicators, that's it.

And public safety radio systems have expanded well beyond DMR level features. Public safety radio systems have left most amateur systems in the dust, and that happened a decade or more ago. When FirstNet hits the streets, the differences are going to be even more profound.


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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
Agencies have passed us by, and if we can not provide what they are used too, I feel we are of less or no use at all.
The truth is most public safety agencies don't "need" amateur radio to do their job. The days of amateur radio operators being the only source of reliable communications in a disaster are mostly gone. While amateur radio does have it's place, it's a lot different than it was back in the days of Civil Defense. Public safety communications really changed a lot after 9/11. DHS took care of that when they rolled out nationwide interoperability frequencies. That allows agencies that were smart enough to program their radios correctly to communicate in simplex mode with other agencies as needed. Add in satellite communications, cell phones, FirstNet and all the others, and the need for volunteers with radios is greatly diminished.

I've worked for the same agency for 20+ years and we've never needed amateur radio operators to fill our communications needs. That has included earthquakes, "year 2000", power outages, storms, fiber optic cable cuts, etc. Systems are a lot more robust than they were a few decades ago.

In a way, amateur radio taught public safety too well. Amateurs did such a good job that they've put themselves out of "work". That should be seen as a good thing, not an issue.


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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
Its like we have the guns, but the ammo is nor provided.
Probably not a good example, but I get what you mean.

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Originally Posted by teufler View Post
This was like the time in Viet Nam. We knew the targets, but Washington told us what targets we could go after. Sometimes it as like , well in Indians didn't have bows and arrows anymore, they had guns that shot pretty darm good, and we had blinders on. Washington at their finest once more.
Again, I'd have to disagree. Even public safety agencies are learning their lessons about encryption. When many went to trunked radio systems with subscriber access control, they effectively locked out mutual aid help from other agencies. Public safety learned from that.

DHS has spoken out against encryption in many cases, and makes it plain in the IFOG that encryption shall not be used on interoperability channels. Again, a sign that public safety, DHS and FCC learned something that some amateurs have not.

Technology will always be changing, and prices will always be coming down. Thanks to that, and grant money, most agencies have the equipment and systems they need to communicate. Not all, though. Little local agencies, volunteer fire departments, etc. are all still hurting, but that's not because of lack of encryption. Its because the bureaucrats in charge are screwing the pooch when it comes to communications systems. The feds are working towards fixing that, bureaucrats be damned.

What I see is that amateur radio needs to reinvent itself into filling real world needs. Not chasing a train that left the station decades ago.
Amateur radio needs to expand. Get out of the "when all else fails" mindset and stop planning for the zombie apocalypse. Develop a standard digital mode that will allow the hobby radio industry to move on. Get into wide bandwidth use for carrying data, live stream video, etc. Narrow bandwidth voice communications is 1970's technology. Time for the amateurs to get out in front and start developing things. Time to stop getting hung up on the "I'm licensed, you aren't" attitude.
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Last edited by mmckenna; 07-14-2017 at 8:14 PM..
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 07-15-2017, 7:54 AM
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Reform in this particular area is needed in amateur radio leadership more than at the FCC or in Congress.

As mmckenna points out quite nicely, a lot of hams are living in the past. This mindset is maintained by such groups as ARRL, which is also living in the past with respect to emcomm and ham "leadership" in developing technology.

It's time to realize that ham radio is becoming irrelevant in terms of emergency communications and technological development. Sure, there are pockets of ham operators still doing creative and worthwhile new things. But the 21st Century ham, who "studied" for their license by repeatedly taking multiple choice tests online until they had memorized enough answers to pass, is not qualified to advance the radio art or to provide high-stakes communications services.
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Old 07-15-2017, 8:47 AM
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Well said, mmckenna.
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Old 07-15-2017, 9:54 AM
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I can just hear it now SKYWARN net is up and someone decided to scramble his communication with a Tornado on the ground. THAT would make a real good argument right there.
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Old 07-15-2017, 7:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teufler View Post
The FCC has not been moved to accept these arguments by others yet.
I'll add:
I was very happy to read the FCC posting when they denied that petition for rule change. I would have been disappointed if the FCC, ARRL and amateur radio operators in general had adopted the attitude that encryption/scrambling was a necessary addition to amateur radio.
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Old 07-15-2017, 7:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveNF2G View Post
It's time to realize that ham radio is becoming irrelevant in terms of emergency communications and technological development.
Yup. Every incident I've ever been to on one side of the mic or the other, the hams haven't provided much. In fact, some of our resources were used keeping them on their task because they felt they should be doing more than their assignment.
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Old 07-15-2017, 7:51 PM
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Some hams scramble by talking in another language.
You talk in German(for example),Im not going to be able to tell you what you're saying......
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Old 07-15-2017, 7:54 PM
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Originally Posted by sfd119 View Post
Yup. Every incident I've ever been to on one side of the mic or the other, the hams haven't provided much. In fact, some of our resources were used keeping them on their task because they felt they should be doing more than their assignment.
I have to agree. I retired from LE work 10 years ago but I still operate the mobile incident command center. It has satellite communications & Internet, an ACU-1000, cameras and more. We also have various ham radios and can talk over much of the ham spectrum. We've been to Hurricane Katrina, tornadoes, train wrecks, chemical spills, and lord knows what else but we seldom use the ham radios for official work. Both myself and the other operator have licenses.
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Old 07-15-2017, 9:15 PM
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Quote:
97.113 Prohibited transmissions.
(a) No amateur station shall transmit:
4) Music using a phone emission except as specifically provided elsewhere in this section; communications intended to facilitate a criminal act; messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning, except as otherwise provided herein; obscene or indecent words or language; or false or deceptive messages, signals or identification.
Purpose Matters.

Encoding can be done for many purposes, encoding for the purpose of obscuring is not permitted.

There are hams that have data networks going using old routers on the 12cm band that use encryption so people with their phones or laptops looking for open wifi and free internet don't inadvertently cross into illegal transmissions. That's usually not considered to be a problem.

Talking in FM analog on simplex with a large group then going to DMR to obscure information from the FM users would be an issue, not because DMR is an issue, but because your reason for encoding the transmission is a problem. Same might go for using Q codes to hide what you're saying from scanner users when in a crowded area. But using them for shorthand among those expected to know them, namely most hams, to make communication faster and quicker, just fine. Secret words or having an agreement among your buddies to always talk about your radios as being 1/4 the price you paid for them so the XYLs don't overhear what you actually paid, might really be an FCC issue.

So what's the purpose of it? Are you experimenting with something new in the mode, (like using encryption to tweak the mode so that the data is more efficient and weak signals can reach farther before falling off the digital wall or improving the fidelity of the audio within an allotted bandwidth or to reduce interference from another station that's got same mode spurious emissions, some other non for purpose of obscuring reason?) publish the encryption key and make it well known what you're doing, i.e. take the steps not to make it for the purpose of obscuring.

Come on the air with voice inversion in the same area every night for a rag chew session with friends so you can have your own private chat area, and eventually it may catch up to you, and be hard to explain as being for a purpose other than obscuring and then you're in trouble.

I remember the days of blanket statements about D-Star being illegal because it was proprietary (it isn't any of those things, in the US at least, I'm not sure if France has developed an understanding), I remember the days of people saying DMR, well MOTOTRBO (at the time they were really the only game in town on the mode), was illegal, and it was wrong for hams to even consider using it. Then people get educated and realize that just because things are new or rare doesn't mean you can't use them; it might mean using them requires additional considerations.

Encryption is not blanket illegal on the ham bands, but it does require a lot of thought and consideration about what you're doing, how you're doing it and why you're doing it to be used legally and appropriately and within the spirit of ham radio. Remember the bands aren't just there for our enjoyment, that's something we're glad to have, but there's also national benefit from having a cadre of people around the country that have an understanding of the radio theory and technology, being ambassadors for our country to the rest of the world (on both HF and digital modes), welcoming new hams, self policing our service, being courteous operators, providing services to our communities (including emergency communications) and experimenting with new things to further ham radio and radio science as a whole for the nation.

Now what about those all of those hams using 5 watts of power in their HT to hit the repeater, when only 1 watt would get the job done just as well? Minimum necessary transmitter power to complete the desired communication is in the regulations [97.313(a)]...
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old 07-16-2017, 8:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canav844 View Post
Purpose Matters.

Talking in FM analog on simplex with a large group then going to DMR to obscure information from the FM users would be an issue, not because DMR is an issue, but because your reason for encoding the transmission is a problem. Same might go for using Q codes to hide what you're saying from scanner users when in a crowded area. But using them for shorthand among those expected to know them, namely most hams, to make communication faster and quicker, just fine. Secret words or having an agreement among your buddies to always talk about your radios as being 1/4 the price you paid for them so the XYLs don't overhear what you actually paid, might really be an FCC issue.
Sorry, no. Those examples are well beyond the scope of the encryption restrictions.

Quote:

Now what about those all of those hams using 5 watts of power in their HT to hit the repeater, when only 1 watt would get the job done just as well? Minimum necessary transmitter power to complete the desired communication is in the regulations [97.313(a)]...
Another impractical interpretation. If your rig does not go below 5 watts, then you are not violating the regs at any time when using 5 watts.

Also, HT coverage is not 100% at all times. Sure, sometimes you can hit a certain repeater with 200 mW, but if you move a few feet, you might need a few whole watts. There is no requirement for a ham to chase power levels to the bottom constantly.
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