• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

    We've noticed a huge increase in rants and negative posts that revolve around agencies going to encryption due to the broadcasting of scanner audio on the internet. It's now worn out and continues to be the same recycled rants. These rants hijack the threads and derail the conversation. They no longer have a place anywhere on this forum other than in the designated threads in the Rants forum in the Tavern.

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    https://forums.radioreference.com/rants/224104-official-thread-live-audio-feeds-scanners-wait-encryption.html

Why the Forsyth County fire department has decided to encrypt its radios, and why that concerns First Amendment expert

SurgePGH

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LMAO! It most certainly does IF there is sensitive, identifying information. (In regards to the post above about HIPAA not being applicable to radio TX)
 

allend

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Well we are here now and this is our new world evolving. LE is in full force to encrypt and now the fire departments as we speak are encrypting now too. What a horrible mess. I am pretty speechless at this point that now we are seeing internet links of cities and counties starting to encrypt their fire departments now. Orange County CA is not in full force in the next couple of months to go end to end with 100 percent encryption with the county fire departments and I mean everything. One of these days down the road something really bad is going to blow up over all of this encryption. Mark my words.
 

DaveNF2G

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The taxpayer argument does not carry much weight, either. Public safety is mainly funded from property taxes. Most Americans are not homeowners, so any resultant "right" would belong only to a minority.
 

DaveNF2G

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The article is very informative but I read a news paper article from some system as to the reason the ambulance traffic back to the ER was encrypted. I remember that HIPPA was mentioned. Either way that doesn't concern me because I don't listen to that stuff anyway.
Because lawyers.
 

paulmohr

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The taxpayer argument does not carry much weight, either. Public safety is mainly funded from property taxes. Most Americans are not homeowners, so any resultant "right" would belong only to a minority.
Depends on where you live really, but over all home ownership for the US is around 64 percent. In rural areas like where I live it is much higher. Also keep in mind that even if you are renting, someone owns that property and is paying property tax on it. And most likely that money is coming out of the rent. So in a way, even if you do rent you are paying property tax in some way. I will be honest though I have no idea where the money comes from to do this, or like I said, if it even costs more to encrypt channels. I was just stating that is the only part of it that would really ruffle my feathers. Other than it messes with my entertainment. On the other hand I do see a few valid reasons for them wanting to do it in some places.

I can see them wanting to encrypt channels in the LA area just for safety. Among other things the media there is pretty intrusive. But with social media being what it is today they could probably still be on the scene pretty fast. The only down side to it is I also like to watch police chase videos and it would screw that up too lol.

As for the scanner apps and internet thing I think a good compromise would be delaying the feeds. We would still be able to hear what is going on but it would take some of the safety issues off the first responders.

The whole HIPPA thing really doesn't concern me at all. I have never heard anything sensitive go over the air myself. Heck most of it I don't even understand because I don't work in the medical field.

Another issue I have seen with using scanners now vs in the past is there really isn't a lot of information going over the radio anymore. Except maybe in really rural areas or small towns. Most of the information is being fed to the in car computers or over cell phones. Heck in my area all I hear from the state patrol is just them logging in out for shifts. Once in a while you might hear them run a plate or call for assistance. It is possible I am not hearing all the traffic though because of how something is set up. Some days I hear more than others. Yesterday I did hear one of the narcotics teams running survailence for the whole day. I could only hear one side of it though. And honestly that should have been encrypted in my opinion.
 

2112

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Encryption is inconvenient, but that it pops up on a channel or talkgroup here or there won't kill the hobby. What will eventually kill the hobby is the convergence of LMR and LTE in public-safety communications. It's already started, there are already radios out there that combine narrowband and broadband so that they can back each other up. And with the advent of FirstNet, this convergence is expected to accelerate going forward.

The massive dependence on cell phones by everyone includes first responders, so there's already a foundation in-place for this trend... it's much easier to train anyone to use cell phones as opposed to super-computerized subscriber radios.
 

rdelao_16

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Crap excuse. First off, HIPAA does not apply to radio comm. If someone listened to a care report over radio waves, it's incidental. Second, if you need a couple encrypted channels then by all means, but you do not need to encrypt daily traffic. A FD near us just upgraded their system and when they did, they added I believe they added 3-4 encrypted channels. Should be all you need. The PD on the other hand...
 

FluxMux

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If HIPAA is the reason, then all smartphone monitoring that takes place for "commercial" use should be brought to an end. How many smartphones are on staff, the doctor, yourself etc... while at your physician's office or in a hospital? The encryption is being done to protect themselves in case they may do something they shouldn't.... nothing more.

As a previous poster mentioned, we too also have a concern of chlorine tanker leaks near here and it has been the reason people were warned BEFORE the alarm was sounded more than once in my life. (Paper mill nearby). Being able to hear what has happened during large scale emergencies may save lives. We recently went through a really bad ice storm last week and those with a scanner would have known before the fire dept and subsequently the power company was on scene that power lines were down on certain roads, and certain roads where trees were falling one after the other and to avoid it and take another route as they were called in, and the dispatch call with that information could be heard long before they were on scene. There are many reasons the public should be allowed to listen to these comms and you don't know the spectrum of it until each situation arises. I wonder how many people knew which areas to avoid during the fires in California by listening to these communications and if it saved lives being able to hear from those on scene the direction the fires were spreading in real time as they tried to leave the area? Maybe none, maybe a handful... doesn't matter - it shouldn't be encrypted as it can be life saving information, or at least information that can keep you OUT of their way to the scene they need to secure. There has also been more than one occasion in my lifetime where I learned a relative had a medical emergency and was able to let their immediate family know they needed to check on the situation long before they would have learned otherwise. One of them being a child and medical staff will do no more than stabilize until the guardian or parent is on hand to sign for further treatments that fall outside of 'stabilizing'.

If people are tailing Fire/EMS to sell services to the victim related to cleanup/rebuild after the fact, there is no reason they can't create a law regarding this as interfering with their work and enforce that.
 

DaveNF2G

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If people are tailing Fire/EMS to sell services to the victim related to cleanup/rebuild after the fact, there is no reason they can't create a law regarding this as interfering with their work and enforce that.
There is already a law against that, but it is a rarely enforced federal law.

47 CFR 705 - Communications Privacy Act
Prohibits using information intercepted from radio traffic for personal benefit.
 

DaveNF2G

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Ahhhh, what? EMS knows that can't broadcast names and what have you. They use cell phones when they need to pass that Info. along to the hospital. Unless they do that to save themselves from being sued.
Per HIPAA itself, it does not apply to two-way radio communications. Agencies that cite HIPAA are ignorant of the law and/or being mistakenly advised by ill-informed attorneys.

The legal profession is one of the most arrogantly ignorant groups there is.
 

poltergeisty

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They just didn't want every ambulance chaser and major media reporter responding to fires and accidents.

I'm thinking that when an agency goes encryption, the media are given RX-only handhelds. Though, I'm not too sure on that. I just read that which may be regional-based. Then again, if that's not the case, then we really do have a case of impeding the media's ability to report the facts under the 1st Amendment. But then I guess agencies could argue that they have a PIO and all this rot so there's transparency.

Just your average everyday nonchalant fire department charged with saving lives and property. Nothing to see or hear here. Move along.
 

N1DDC

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I'm thinking that when an agency goes encryption, the media are given RX-only handhelds. Though, I'm not too sure on that. I just read that which may be regional-based. Then again, if that's not the case, then we really do have a case of impeding the media's ability to report the facts under the 1st Amendment. But then I guess agencies could argue that they have a PIO and all this rot so there's transparency.

Just your average everyday nonchalant fire department charged with saving lives and property. Nothing to see or hear here. Move along.
It depends on the area. I've seen a good amount of LEO agencies offer news media the option for an RX-only handheld but they have to purchase the radio themselves & sign a ND agreement that they would only report certain types of stories that they heard and there was a list of things they could not do with the information they heard on the radio or had to wait a certain time frame.

As far as encrypting just because of news media showing up to wrecks or accidents, that's a silly reason. Those incidents occur in public view, mostly on public streets that anyone driving by could stop and see themselves. Plus there's also Freedom of the Press, lets not forget that. The media has an obligation to report the news to citizens. And for those that say encryption stops criminals from using it, I don't see where that's a big issue either. I belong to a nation-wide message board of scanner listeners, with probably half of the members being current/former LEO, and I posed this question last week to them asking in all their careers how many times have they come across a perp either using a scanner or scanner app... The answers I got were exactly what I expected: Hardly ever! Most people said in all their years only once or twice did they find the perps using a scanner. Most perps don't even know how to program a scanner, let alone setting up a Digital P25 system with multiple talkgroups to scan! I think encryption is just a push by Big M to make more $$ off agencies. While yes, one can argue it improves officer safety when the only ones that can listen are authorized persons, but is it really that big an issue? Are our LEO's really getting shot & killed by scanner listeners?? No, they're being killed by criminals that get caught & don't wanna go to jail! The ones that encrypt don't care cuz they still have access to their radio system, but put yourselves in our shoes, the ones that don't have that access but are in the 99% that just wanna listen because it's a hobby... I just don't really see the need to encrypt all channels, all the time. If anything, they should make it part-time encryption where the officer or medic just needs to flip a switch on the radio and transmit the sentitive info so while we wouldn't be able to hear it we still have the regular dispatches just fine. But these are just my opinions and everyone is entitled to theirs.
 

Rred

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Actually, HIPAA applies to ALL activities by "health care providers". That includes leaving names on a sign-in list which is publicly accessible, chatting about patients by name in the elevator, and, yes, IF YOU ARE A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER you also must take appropriate respect for patient privacy on radio communications.
If you are working for an NVOAD as a radio operator and a health care provider asks you to pass on a message--you can pass it on without issue. If it violates patient confidentiality, the PROVIDER is liable, the radop is not.
But as any emcom/auxcom radio training will tell you (ARRL ARES RACES SATERN Red Cross etc.) discretion at all times is advised. And that was the policy long before HIPAA. HIPAA was passed because the health care industries were incredibly sloppy and refused to do anything until they were slapped. Sometimes hard.
HIPAA is not the appropriate standard for radio traffic. All you have to do on a radio is say "The Green family has evacuated 1800 State Street, please tell their children to go to Aunt Jo's" and now you've done nothing wrong under HIPAA, but you have told burglars where they can clean out a house. There are very different liability issues for radio operators. All usually covered, formally, by any of the NVOADs.
 
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