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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Help Keep Encryption Off The Air

Bruce Perens (K6BP) on June 28, 2013
Website: http://hams.com/encryption/
View comments about this article!

Please forward this message to other hams. The most current version of this message is at http://hams.com/encryption/ Please use that version.

FCC is currently processing a request for rule-making, RM-11699, that would allow the use of Amateur frequencies in the U.S. for private, digitally-encrypted messages.

Encryption is a potential disaster for us because it defeats the self-policing nature of ham radio. If hams can't decode messages, we can't identify if the communication is appropriate for ham radio or not. A potentially worse problem is that encryption destroys the harmless nature of Amateur radio. For governments around the world to continue to allow Amateur Radio, it must be percieved as harmless. There's no reason for anyone to believe that encrypted communications are harmless. Foreign governments, and maybe even our own, will start to see hams as more of a threat. This is likely to have a chilling effect upon DXpeditions, which are already often viewed suspiciously by the host nations, and perhaps will even lead some countries to take Amateur Radio off of the air or limit our privileges in some way.

The last day for you to submit a comment opposing this is JULY 8, so it's important for you to act now! Please make a short comment in opposition to the proposal at this link, or use this link to upload longer documents.

We have no way of telling if the content of encrypted messages are appropriate for ham radio. While their senders will identify them as emergency communications drills, they could be used for crime, operating a business, downloading pornography, etc. WiFi-like cards are already available for Amateur frequencies, and while hams can build legitimate networks with them, none of their vendors check for a license before selling them to anyone. Legalizing encryption on the air will make abuse of Amateur frequencies provable only after difficult and potentially illegal code-breaking.

A small group has almost succeeded in sneaking this change past the entire ham community. As I write this, they are almost unopposed, with only one comment against their proposal submitted to FCC. We have less than two weeks to turn that around!

Unfortunately, ARRL isn't helping. On March 9, the ARRL board of directors moved to explore whether they should ask for rule-changes authorizing encryption, see their meeting minutes at paragraph 4.1.3. Before ARRL was scheduled to consider a report on the issue, an individual ham filed a request for rule-making with FCC. ARRL obviously tracks FCC rule-making and the notices of it in the Federal Register, and yet waited until two weeks before the end of the commenting period to announce on their web site that this was going on.

What could be a plausible excuse for using encryption on the Amateur bands? It's HIPAA, a 1996 law that requires that doctors, hospitals and other medical services providers keep patient data secret. And thus, hospitals have become reluctant to use ham communications in emergencies. We effectively broadcast all of the information we communicate, and they're afraid that we'll get them sued by doing so.

Emergency communications are a critical component of the mission of Amateur Radio, and are one of only four purposes that FCC uses to justify the existence of the Amateur Service. It may be that encryption does become critical to support Amateur emergency services. But that time has not yet come. If we are to allow encryption on the air, that should come only after the entire ham community has discussed it throughly and explored all of the options. And yet, nobody's brought this issue before you, before attempting to change the rules behind your back.

The folks who support the encryption proposal are, as far as I can tell, well-meaning. Many of them are involved in emergency communications. But their methods are inappropriate. If they want this change, they must discuss the issue throughly at ham conferences and in our publications. They must allow hams to become educated about the alternatives before we decide as a community if a rule change is necessary.

What are the alternatives? One is changing HIPAA to remove liability from the doctors and hospitals for disclosure of information in an amateur emergency transmission. Changing laws is not impossible for Amateurs. Through lobbying congress, we have recently been able to cause changes in ITAR 121, a Department of Defense restriction that made it difficult for us to collaborate with other nations in building microsats. That's changing now as a result of lobbying by ham organizations. If hams can get that done, we can reform HIPAA as well.

Another alternative is to leave the rules as they are today. Many emergency organizations have been able to operate without encryption despite any reservations by the served organizations regarding HIPAA, which has existed since 1996. And many services other than Amateur Radio, including MARS, Land Mobile, and Part 15 can provide encryption without a rule-change, and might be more appropriate venues for this traffic.

If we end up deciding to have encryption on the Amateur bands, we must do so only after developing a system of controls that prevent its abuse. There is no anti-abuse method sugested in the current request for rule making, but I propose this one: Encryption would only be allowed in tests and drills that would be authorized and publicly announced by accredited ARES or RACES organizations, and or actual emergency communications for a served agency that is subject patient privacy regulations such as HIPAA. Logging of encrypted transmissions, including the encryption key, would be mandatory. Stations would be required to disclose their keys to amateur volunteers who would check recorded transmissions for rule-violation, but those volunteers would be required to keep any HIPAA-protected patient data within the transmission private. Stations that repeatedly failed to cooperate in allowing their messages to be decrypted and checked by third parties would be subject to penalties.

But we haven't decided any of this yet. And we shouldn't without your participation. Thus, please comment now in opposition of the proposal.

Again, the last day for you to submit a comment opposing this is JULY 8, so it's important for you to act now! Please make a short comment in opposition to the proposal at this link, or use this link to upload longer documents.

About the Author: Bruce Perens K6BP is one of the founders of the Open Source movement in software. He is also the founder of No-Code International, the organization that successfully lobbied for the global elimination of code testing. More recently, Perens has been a pioneer of digital communications over Ham Radio. He started and evangelized the Codec2 (http://codec2.org/) project, which has developed a fully open and patent-free digital voice codec for Radio Amateurs. That codec is now in use in FreeDV (http://freedv.org/), which provides clear digital voice communications on HF in half the bandwidth of SSB. You can reach Bruce Perens K6BP at +1 510-4PERENS (US Pacific time), or email to bruce at perens dot com.

Please forward this message to other hams. The most current version is at http://hams.com/encryption/ Please use that version.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KG4RUL on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have filed my comments in opposition to this petition. I believe that any patient care information can be transmitted, as it has been done in the past, by the simple expedient of the use of generic descriptions, i.e.: patient number one is amale, approximately 3 years of age or female approximately 6 years of age. The information is NOT attached to the actual identity of the patient and encryption is not required.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've also filed a comment opposing this change. There are provisions in HIPPA that allow for transmission of patient information by radio--something that was made necessary by the paramedic programs where the paramedics are guided by doctors at hospitals in the treatment of patients out in the field. Remember the TV show 'Emergency?' What was few and far between then--the treatment control of patients in the field by radio--is widespread now.

In any event, this want (not need--WANT) of using encryption on ham radio bands is not at all necessary--and if the information that has to be passed is of such paramount secrecy, it does NOT belong on ham radio bands in the first place. There are secure radio channels in the public services bands already for messages of this sort.

One other thing--with encryption, there is no way in real time that the contents of the messages can be checked to be sure encryption was necessary--or that the transmissions are not being used for nefarious purposes. Imagine a terrorist getting a ham band radio and using encryption to hide his activities, and the ham community--and the government--having no way to monitor in real time!

No, encryption does not belong on ham band transmissions at all. This rule change ought to be filed in the circular file--permanently!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE0XQ on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I am also filing comments. It is bad enoungh forcing hams to take FEMA,State EMA, County and NWS certification courses/tests just to be a storm spotter. Now they want to encrypt voice transmissions during emergencies? This is just another way for the government to control ham radio. The next thing we will see coming down the pike is in order to be a Amateur Radio Operator, You will have to have all the above certifications I listed. The government controls too much of our lives and it seems like it is going to get worse. I dropped out of participating in ARES, because of the above. I was a storm spotter for over 20 years before the above requirements were imposed. I know of many hams that dropped out of ARES for the same reason as I did. I am not oppposed to ARES, but don't like being told what traing I need in order to becoma a member of ARES again. I dealt with data and voice encryption in the military and I had to have a security clearance. What about hams - will they need security clearances?
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
KE0XQ--

You've got it wrong, Bill. This request for rulemaking is from a ham who wants encryption to be allowed on the ham bands--not from the government. Frankly, I doubt that this will be approved anyway--the government (in the form of the FCC) will not approve it since there are other ways that that information the request is made to accommodate can be passed.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KF5JNU on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The same crowd who is throwing a fit over encryption are probably the same ones still mad about dropping the code requirements.

Before that they probably complained about them new SSB radios.

Are you also for the 300 baud limit on HF?
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've just been through the comments, and the comments are now running about 3 to 2 AGAINST any rule changes permitting encryption. It may be interesting to note that most comments were for the petition, and the tide DID turn once this petition for rulemaking went public--that is since the petition made the news here and on other ham radio sites.

However, we can't afford to say that it's over--those of us who believe that this petition shouldn't be adopted have to make sure that it isn't--by filing our comments as indicated above.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by NY7Q on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well, CW "is" ham radio and encryption has nothing to do with it.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE0XQ on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I don't care who is requesting it. It is not needed on the ham bands.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE0XQ on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have been a ham for 25+ years and I was NEVER against dropping the code requirement. In fact, when the code requirement was dropped, I upgraded to extra. I had a stroke in 1998 and that basically put an end to my CW days.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KF5JNU on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
As a hobby to survive we must attract new members, guess who a huge group of interested people are? The maker movement is filled with tech savy young guys and gals.

Explain to them why they are limited to 300baud on HF or can't use encryption and its hard to understand. Ham radio is a hobby of technology advancement but our tech is stuck in the 70's.

Codec 2 is helping advance digital modes, but its still behind its commercial counterpart.

Take any top of the line amateur HT and compare it to a commercial Motorola HT, suddenly our advanced HT doesn't seem so advanced.

In the heathkit days we were making advancements in hardware by replacing tubes, today we are making advancements by replacing analog.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K8WRQ on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Take a moment to read some of the comments, and you'll see why this kind of "open call" encouraging groups to comment is dangrous.

It's painfully obvious that many don't have a basic grasp of English grammar, spelling or punctuation. But that's just a sign of our times, I suppose. Even more concerning is the fact that many of those submitting comments haven't even read the RM, and they're simply basing their comments off the brief part of some article they read asking them to comment, or what their buddy told them on the 2m ragchew net.

It makes the whole of us come off as uninformed at best, and unintelligent at worst. Hell, these people may start to wonder why they trust us to help in disasters at all.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WZ3O on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
OK so see if I've got this right, adding a layer of complexity to an Emergency situation, seems absurd. "When all else fails" we'd be adding another link to in fact fail. Oh not to mention more $$ from the ham communities pockets. Who decides what form of encryption, when it would be used, etc. making the process a bit Elitest.

For example the Red Cross needs immediate input, as now it's relatively straightforward forward,hams on both ends use HF or V/U with the generally accepted protocols forms etc and we have "lift off". Simple per se, no special hardware, etc.

Realizing the progress in Ham technology is slow we can an do a good job when needed, example Oklahoma ....
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE7FD on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not going to take a position here but I do have a couple of comments. First, shed any paranoia you're harboring and chill out. Most hams think they know everything just because they took a 20wpm code test once and can coil coax without kicking the line. We often rush to judgement waving our own flag ignoring other facts emphasizing our own narrow understanding and opinion. That may just be human nature; we exhibit the same thing we see and read on the news about anywhere else in the world. However, THIS group ought to be better informed than most since we take getting a license so seriously and guard that privilege so firmly. That also means we should demonstrate the [learned] skill of CRITICAL THINKING (look that up; it probably means something different than what you think it does). In other words, every one of us because of the required learning process to get where we are should have developed the ability to think outside our own little box.

Second point: Suppose for a moment YOU are in the hospital for ______ reason (fill in the blank) and some event occurs requiring them to activate their backup communications service (every hospital is required by law to have one, were you aware? It's not just a good idea). Since there will likely be a need to transmit YOUR confidential medical information, how do you feel about that? Do you want someone speaking in clear vocal language that YOU need x number of cc's of a particular medication (which most people have trouble pronouncing anyway and could get it wrong), that YOU need x-large diapers, or that you some embarrassing medical condition? This is typical information exchanged between sites, between doctors and providers.

Limited encrypted comms serves to procect YOU. When the event is past and over, things go back to normal. I feel as guarded as anyone else about changing the rules but we also need to be progressive in our thinking: Laws outside the Amateur service that do affect us (HIPAA for example) change. If we have any interest in fulfilling the public service aspect of the regulations that WE ALL agreed to when we signed on the dotted FCC line, do have some obligation depending on our circumstances. With shrinking budgets, every kind of government agency (local, county, state and federal) needs and wants a fully functional Amateur radio service they can turn to. No one in their right mind is looking to neuter our capability or tie our hands (except greedy corporations looking to take over our band space). Take the time to talk to the served agencies like the Red Cross, DHS or FEMA. They WANT to work with us not against us. Take time to attend meetings and to talk with the groups and agencies we would assist. The vast majority of them value what we can do for them, but they also have legal obligations to people like you and me in confidential matters. I'm certain that not one of us is willing to transmit personal information about a family member where some jerk monitoring what's being said would want it used in a bad way. We ALL approve of encrypted data exchange with our banking information... Should our medical information be treated with any less security? Some folks automatically dismiss out of hand anything coming from a group they don't fully understand. I've got news for you: The rumor is that the world isn't flat, and it orbits the sun, not the other way around. Get the facts for youself. It's time we think and act on common sense.

IMHO,
Glen - KE7FD
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KD8MJR on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This will never pass. The US government has more to lose if this was law than ham operators do. Does the government want equipment to show up on the market that has one button secure voice encryption at a time when they are dealing with terrorist? I am in agreement with the Author that if this bill was passed it would be really bad for ham operators but I really see no chance of it passing.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE7FD on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Stop thinking Enigma machine and start thinking software that you already have, that EVERYONE has. If that were not the case, you couldn't conduct secure online transactions like banking, Amazon purchases or PayPal. Between two sites a key is established that keeps the two ends secure. You're probably doing it right now and not even aware of it.

Come on folks, it's 2013 not 1940. Think outside your box.

g
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KC2QYM on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I understand that there are a number of HAMs that are passionately involved in emergency services and support. For many of them it is the only reason they are involved in HAM radio. I just want to add my own opinion which may inspire vitriol from some of you. Police, emergency service professionals, fire, etc. for the most part see HAM radio EMCOMM volunteers as just getting in their way during emergencies. Although this may vary in different areas I know many people in these professions and a majority of them feel that way. They don’t like people outside their professions getting “under foot”. Most of the frequencies this encryption technology will affect are not where many HAM's care to spend a majority of their time in radio pursuits. From my own personal experience in HAM radio I have perceived that most HAMs want to play radio in the HF spectrum. Although most have at least one 2 meter rig for occasional repeater operations the novelty quickly wears off as the nature of the range and variety of contacts is limited. If the FCC allows/requires encryption technology requirements for emergency communications on the HAM bands in order to adhere to HIPPA (PPI data) then one might point the finger towards the Amateur Radio EMCOMM community itself.
Yes, the HAM EMCOMM community has done a great job of embedding amateur radio into the process. It was inevitable that the government would push their rules, regulations, and bureaucracy into this so why are some of you so surprised, shocked, and perturbed?
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE7FD on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Let me add a fly to the ointment...

Go to AMSATs web site, specifically here:
http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/information/faqs/using-ham-freqs.php

The question is asked:

Q3: Our satellite will carry cameras that will take pictures of the separation sequence for xyz corporation, builders of the multiple payload adaptor. We will give them the pictures. They require we don't make them public in case they show something embarrassing or something that didn't work right. Is that OK?

The response is as follows. Read the ENTIRE answer.

A: No. Every transmission from an amateur station must be in 'plain language' or, in other words, in the clear. In the clear means that (1) technical descriptions of all emissions, codes, and formats are made publicly and widely available; and (2) technical descriptions must be sufficient to enable any technically competent licensed amateur radio operator to use the system. As a consequence, of course, all transmissions will be open to reception by anyone. (Encryption for critical spacecraft telecommand functions is accepted.)

My comment:
We all know, love and agree to, "Every transmission from an amateur station must be in 'plain language' or, in other words, in the clear..." No argument there. That's the law and rules today and it servers us well. But read on, "...Encryption for critical spacecraft telecommand functions is accepted."

Why do you think that is? TO KEEP CRITICAL FUNCTIONS SECURE! So yes, folks, the Amateur Radio Service IS USING ENCRYPTION TODAY, RIGHT NOW, LEGALLY. It's a very limited purpose, not for all emissions but for critical functions.

So maybe we're not so backwards after all.

g
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K8QV on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Ah, the amateur radio teapot is never without a tempest. Carry on.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WD8OQX on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
First off, just who is this encryption intended to keep the info from? If it's the general public, then the digital modes we already have in place will do that, as most don't even know what they ARE let alone how to"decode" them. (this includes the new digital voice)

So, if this IS the case, I see us using what we have as satisfying BOTH sides, as the message is kept "private" but can also be monitored for any "terrorist activity".

If there is some OTHER reason to encrypt our transmissions, then we need to re-evaluate what the current total state of AMATEUR RADIO is, not just the so called "privacy".

 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WB8VLC on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I voted for encryption, I see nothing wrong with it especially if we can use OTAR and rekey on a daily or hourly basis along with maybe using frequency hopping on HFthru microwaves.

I have nada to hide but I don't see any reason why the damn NSA should be listening to our useless boring needless ham radio drivel anyway.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE7FD on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
...QYM makes an EXCELLENT point, absolutely vital to this discussion: " For many of them it [emcomm] is the only reason they are involved in HAM radio. I just want to add my own opinion which may inspire vitriol from some of you. Police, emergency service professionals, fire, etc. for the most part see HAM radio EMCOMM volunteers as just getting in their way during emergencies. "

You are correct. The root cause of that reasoning is why the "served agencies" (that's a real term not a coincidence of words) most often pre qualify those volunteers (including hams) who they turn to. Hams should not “self deploy”, showing up expecting to help out even if they have the best of intentions as these served agencies and first responders WILL turn you away and they should. Who are you? Where’s your ID from the Red Cross, ARES, RACES or other qualified agency?

Two threads naturally emerge when we talk about encryption; Why encryption and who will use in? During an emergency and by qualified responders (Police, emergency service professionals, fire, etc, AND those Amateurs WHO ARE CALLED UP by the appropriate agency). Again no one should self deploy. Just because you show up with a truck load of radios and batteries does not mean know what you’re doing or are even needed. (BTW, contesting skills DO NOT translate to emcomm skills, sorry to disappoint…) Unless we were told to show up by the leadership of the agency or protocol within that agency we are duly registered with, stay away, and find another way to help out.

When it comes to emcomm, unless someone has gone through proper training and is certified with the appropriate state, county or local EOC (look it up folks), we would as QYM has said, be “under foot” of the professionals.

g
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W8AAZ on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
If you need private secure communications during an emergenicy, use CW. Very few, if any, of the public and at least half the hams will not be able to figure it out. And it does not require a computer or expensive software, but does require a "key" to use it!
 
Encryption - Sure  
by W7ASA on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Many of the tasks which hams perform here when called-out for community service during an emergency do require handling sensitive information.

The medical information is one,

Relief supply locations and transit points not yet distributed to the public (think of the pandemonium of Katrina),

Many aspects of mop-up after a major calamity such as casualties, notification of next of kin and etc.

When normal infrastructure is in place for relaying this information, such as via internet, encryption is quite simple. After all, encryption has been normal on internet for about 20 years now. No news there. The same file types can be sent over radio using error correcting modes with FREEsoftware when normal infrastructure such as internet is not used.

It is not merely some hobbyist who is of concern, but the problem of looters, (Katrina) and others who can easily exploit relief operations. Then there are reporters who have been known to force their way in after accidents, such as one helicopter crash I was acquainted with where reporters intercepted the search & rescue comms and flew immediately to the crash site , poking their cameras in to get video of the carnage - film at 11.

Australia has provision for encryption in similar situations and yet their amateur service is robust and healthy.

I'll recommend a 'yes' with specific guidelines.


de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._


Ps. I heard much the same reaction of horror when it was proposed to allow Hams to use ASCII on HF. We lived through that with no scarring at all...
 
RE: Encryption - Sure  
by AA4PB on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It shouldn't be too difficult to craft the rules to provide "limited use" of encryption. The first one should be that the station IDs are always sent in plain text so the FCC can identify the stations using the encryption.
 
Encryption, eh?  
by AI2IA on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Just how far behind the times will hamsters go? NSA, duh?
Encryption to protect "privacy"? Are they daft?

I strongly support emcomm, but lately some folks are getting more than a little bit carried away.

Is there a need to rush to oppose it? Nah!

If they are dumb enough to go for it, let them have it. We can always communicate in "plain text" just like we do now. Henny Penny, the sky won't fall.

There has never been greater ignorance in the world than after the invention of the printing press, and now with digital this and digital that, folks are driving like zombies, talking into their cell phones in supermarkets, and running with the zombies like never before.

Well it all just goes to prove what Confucius once said, "You can't put a ten thousand dollar government student loan subsidized education in a ten cent head."

 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KT4EP on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
No to encryption on the amateur bands. If you want to communicate in a secretive manner, use email - encrypt that.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W0DLR on June 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This is downright comical the number of hams that already have their panty hose in a wad.

First place, this will never happen, but if it did, it would be very simple to do. Just send a message in CW and 99% of the hams wouldn't have an idea what it said.

The ones I have worked with in the past couldn't keep a message straight in plain english, let alone toss in some encryption. If their hearing aid batteries get low, that's all the encryption you need.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by JOHNZ on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Exam fraud has been wide spread since the government got out of the exam business. Retest any group of hams, and 60% or more would fail their retest. When Morse was still required, the retest fail rate would easily be 80% or more. Hams who "passed" Morse tests back when it was required will tell you they have since "forgotten" the Morse. Yeah, right, they never learned it in the first place. As far as encryption, good idea, just send whatever you want encrypted in Morse, and nine out of ten hams today would not be able to decipher what was sent. The once great hobby of amateur radio continues its decline, as it rots from the inside out.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W5DXP on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
What is there to keep amateur radio encryption from being used for anti-American activities?
--
73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Encryption on the ham bands does not belong. The first, best and (should be) only reason is that the ham bands are self policing. How do the OOs (or anyone else, for that matter) verify that encryption is being properly used during emergencies--and how do they verify that emergency in the first place?

No, encryption is a can of worms that the ham bands has never needed--and does not need now.

As it has been said, first responders really don't want us underfoot, and the few that do tolerate us for things other than passing sensitive info. There are other ways of getting that information from one place to another WITHOUT the use of the ham bands.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KC4IWI on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I also submitted a comment in opposition to the proposed rule. My rationale is based upon the theory of unintended consequences: additional Government intervention, increased rulemaking and enforcement complicated further by the possibility of involving law enforcement in monitoring our activities.

I believe it is highly unlikely the FCC will approve the proposal.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
One other thing--HIPPA regs specifically provide for emergencies and for the transmission of sensitive data during emergencies by stating such encryption is not necesssary during emergencies! It follows that there is NO need of encryption during any emergency, and no need of allowing encryption on the ham bands.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K8QV on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
<<What is there to keep amateur radio encryption from being used for anti-American activities?>>

Government already uses encryption for anti-American activities. It's for our own good, though.

 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K3UG on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This is not needed and will never pass.

Leave the encrypted communications to the professionals. This has no place in Amateur Radio.

 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AE5X on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
K8QV:
"Government already uses encryption for anti-American activities. It's for our own good, though."

Yes, of course it is, Comrade:
http://www.ae5x.com/blog/2013/06/13/prasm/

John AE5X
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N6ORB on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Bruce thinks encrypted messages on the ham bands "could be used for crime, operating a business, downloading pornography, etc."

What criminal is going to get and use a valid call sign and use it for some criminal purpose? Real criminals go to WalMart and buy a throw-away cellphone. They have much higher bandwidth and don't require a valid call sign to use.

Who would use the ham bands for downloading porn?? It's available everywhere on the Internet. In San Francisco you can go to the public library and spend the day downloading all you can stand and no member of the staff would question you. The low bandwidth that can be used on the ham bands makes this "threat" implausible at best. How about operating a business? Again, the bandwidth limitations make this implausible.

I'd love to work the proposed P5 DXpedition. Am I worried that a 2 meter emcomm net practicing sending encrypted messages in Nebraska will cause Kim Jong-Un to prohibit a dxpedition to North Korea? I don't think so.

In short, all of these alarmist claims sound like nothing more than fodder for the 75M paranoia nets.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by GILGSN on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
" If hams can't decode messages, we can't identify if the communication is appropriate for ham radio or not."

How does that make any sense? "not appropriate" is mostly defined as too offensive to be on the air.. However, how can you be offended by something you can't decode?

Terrorism? Give me a break. Why would terrorists send encrypted messages by radio if they can do so more efficiently by email? If they wanted to, they could anyway. I don't think terrorists respect FCC rules.

I do not see any logical reason not to allow encryption on amateur bands. Encryption is a skill, you can't stop it. Of course it could be misused, but so can everything else, and radio is not the easiest way by far to send a secret message! You can legally send an encrypted email, or a letter through the mail. Why not on the air?

How would that be different from digital modes, for most Hams? Sure, you could record it and decode it later, but who does that?

I think that encryption should be allowed on amateur bands anywhere at any time. Just ID in clear.. Why should we be restricted more than any other more common mode of communication?

You guys stop being paranoid about "nefarious uses." It's just plain silly. What it is with everybody getting so scared of their own shadows?!

Gil.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Sorry Gil, you're wrong. Encryption is NOT a 'skill.' It's a technology. As far as allowing it on the ham bands, it's never been allowed and shouldn't be. Ham radio is supposed to be a self-policing radio service. To keep to that, any sort of possible illegal activity shouldn't be allowed, including encryption. It soesn't have to be espionage, either. Simply using encryption on the ham bands for pecuniary activity is illegal, and encryption would allow that.

You open a door a little and pretty soon there is a rush that shoves that door wide open. I doubt that encryption will be allowed anyway.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by GILGSN on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
No, it is a skill. I can encrypt a message with a pen and paper. You can hardly call that technology.. You don't need any technological device for encryption. It was used widely way before technology ever existed.
I am not saying anyone should break the law. I respect all FCC regulations and suggest everyone does. As to commercial encrypted activity on Ham bands, really? Who is going to do that and how? It's easier to use the phone for business. You can knit-pick at details and possible far-fetched convoluted ways to misuse encryption, you'll always find something... There are more annoying things on the Ham bands than possible encrypted messages! What I am saying it that there would probably be no negative impact on Ham radio whatsoever
if it was legalized. But hey, I could be wrong, so you guys give me practical examples of "nefarious" activity with a real impact and I might change my mind.
I'm not holding my breath...

Gil.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WD4HXG on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The FCC wields a big stick but I suspect they cannot unilaterally decide to authorize carte blanche encryption in the amateur bands. Any action has to fall within treaty agreements with other countries. Given the paranoia of foreign governments it is doubtful that any encryption of substance will be agreeable. Given the corporate fear of litigation it is doubtful they will use a service with anything less than mil grade protection. Me thinks this is a run up for the FCC to simply say they listened and cannot authorize further latitude given International implications.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not going to argue except to say that in this case, it's technology. Nobody is sitting down with a paper and pencil transposing letters and making nonsense words for transmission. The encryption in this case is algorithm controlled, and that's technology.

In other cases it could be a skill, but not here.
 
Encrypted Ham Porn? Moo-ha-ha!  
by W7ASA on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It would be difficult to show REAL, historical cases where ham radio was used to spread porn. I mean really, porn? What kind of a lonely person thinks of these silly things? SSTV peep-shows, or are we talking about text? Lurid novellas, pounded out in Morse by W1AW, containing words like 'heaving bosom' and 'manroot' in them to drive the DXer's wild with desire? ha ha c'mon - not on THIS planet. This would make a good skit at Dayton. Also, with the band conditions during our recent solar events, the daily W1AW CW peep-show would JUST be getting to the good part, when the band would fade. Not many customers in that. It would not likely supplement the league's income to any serious degree. That's one business with ham radios which would not profit from this.

"Spys and Terrorists" will infiltrate the ham bands'. Oh yes - nothing like an FCC regulation to stop THEM. These nefarious assassins do not fear Delta Force or Navy SEALS, but the FCC will stop them dead in their tracks with Part 97 Amateur regulations. Like there are no other places to hide clandestine communication, other than the ham bands? Besides which, even several decades ago, HIGH SPEED burst was the prime out-going spook-comm method on radio, in one form or another, so they're on/off the air so fast that maybe a fraction of a percent of the hams today would would even know that they heard a burst (GUHOR?) . If you want to hear home stations for spooks, listen to the Voice & Numbers stations on HF - all run by GOVERNMENTS - who really could not care less what the American FCC says.

'Business will use ham radio'. What? In 1935 maybe this was a problem because HF radio was cutting edge and there little or no alternative for rapid electronic communication to much of the nation and the world. We now have cellphones and internet carried in our shirt pocket, so I think that my odds of becoming a highly paid radioman for General Dynamics are slightly lower than my ever playing center for the Los Angeles Lakers.

In modern times, there have been a few business caught using VHF/UHF mobile and HT's on ham bands from time to time and they were busted and fined HEAVILY. The FCC has really done a TREMENDOUS job within the United States to make it VERY expensive for a rogue business to do this. As for HF ham bands being used for U.S. business, it would likely require a VERY long Google search back into at least the mid 20th century to find even three cases. Besides, there are already regulations in place dealing with business use of ham, and requirements for valid ID on the air, and again, you can go to a communications outfitters website and order an internet/phone sat terminal delivered to your door by Next Day delivery. BGAN sat terminals are small, light and VERY reliable anywhere on Earth, and just like your cellphone, it's user friendly with no ionospheric propagation to figure-out.
---------------------------------------------
Let's outlaw envelopes for mail in the USA too - to prevent TERRORISM!!!
---------------------------------------------

Time to pour a bit of Port, dim the lights, sharpen my pencil, get my graph paper to tune in W1AW for their daily enciphered CW porn transmission. Tonite's broadcast is: "The Naughty Nubile's of Newington". It's sent at 25 GPM using a double incomplete columnar transposition cipher. I pay $25 per month to ARRL for the cipher key. Oooooh! I can hardly wait!


de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
 
RE: Encrypted Ham Porn? Moo-ha-ha!  
by JOHNZ on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
@W7ASA
Ham bands are -exactly- where the bad guys go, in order to hide in plain view. They look and act just like everyone around them and blend into the masses.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AI2IA on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
In the light of current technology and government dishonesty,

ENCRYPTION IS A MYTH.

Let me repeat that:

ENCRYPTION IS A MYTH.

So, in view of this fact, let those who have active imaginations play with "encryption." Who cares?

On a higher plane, one that we can no longer access, let everyone do anything they wish as long as it is not a true crime or truly injures others. Freedom is a good thing.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W7ASA on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
AI2IA -

Those last two lines were golden.


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WD8OQX on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I STILL see this as being a "pandora's box" that can NEVER be closed, WHATEVER the "negatives" that come out.

As for those that think this will never happen..., consider that the FCC is even entertaining the idea in the FIRST place. If the FCC has no intention of allowing it, wouldn't they have said so right from the start?

And like I asked in my FIRST post - just who are we hiding info from in the FIRST place? If we were to ever have such an emergency that called for passing medical info (or the like), it would be so bad that I really doubt that those in need would give a rats *** WHO heard, *I* wouldn't! Lives are a far higher priority on my list than embarrassment will EVER be!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WD8OQX on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Also...
Am I the only one that detects an air of "DEJA VU" from all this? It seems this very thing, almost word for word in all the discussions, already happened once before.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WD8OQX on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Also...
Am I the only one that detects an air of "DEJA VU" from all this? It seems this very thing, almost word for word in all the discussions, already happened once before.
...and was shot down be the FCC right at the get go...
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K6CRC on June 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Sounds a bit like the arguments from the Flat Earth Society.

It will become easier and easier to encrypt communications, and a lot more difficult to catch people doing it.

The logic behind the encryption for EComm makes sense, and I think it is a reasonable approach. HIPPA is here to stay, and if Hams want to really help in a real big emergency, then they will not doubt have to transmit data that would violate HIPPA. Maybe no one will care in the chaos, but it is doubtful and relief organization or a city would knowingly violate HIPPA, as the world is full of unemployed lawyers.

As commercial and local government communications get more sophisticated and easier to use, the question may be 'why bother with hams and ham bands'? Especially if encrypted communications becomes a necessity, and the Hams themselves fight it.
 
RE: Encrypted Ham Porn? Moo-ha-ha!  
by K1CJS on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
W7ASA, you're being obtuse. It isn't the threat from big business, it's the possibility that someone will use encryption to get around the regs that prohibit business communication.

No matter, it's just that the potential pitfalls haven't been considered in this filing--just like in all too many endeavors these days--for this potential rule change to be really harmless.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"...HIPPA is here to stay, and if Hams want to really help in a real big emergency, then they will not doubt have to transmit data that would violate HIPPA...."

How many times does it have to be said that HIPPA itself doesn't prohibit these transmissions in the clear? It's the individual hospitals and instiututions that are doing so. The HIPPA laws, in fact, PERMIT transmission in the clear during certain situations, emergencies included.

Since that is the case, this rule change is NOT needed, and I would be VERY surprised if the FCC adopted it.

As far as the FCC accepting the request for rulemaking in the first place--they HAVE TO! Ask yourself this--how many times have such requests, for various reasons, been accepted--then denied? ESPECIALLY for the expansion of PRB-1!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W5TTW on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Who will be listening to these hypothetical sensitive transmissions?

1. The general public has no idea that ham radio even exists.

2. The general public does not own equipment capable of listening to ham radio.

3. Even though some comms can be heard over the internet, see #1.

These initiatives are nothing more than the EMCOM wackers seeking validation.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by G3RZP on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
WD4HXG said

>The FCC wields a big stick but I suspect they cannot unilaterally decide to authorize carte blanche encryption in the amateur bands. Any action has to fall within treaty agreements with other countries.<

They can. The international Radio Regulations in Article 25.2A states
1A) Transmissions between amateur stations of different countries shall not be encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning, except for control signals exchanged between earth command stations and space stations in the amateur-satellite service. (WRC 03)

So within the US, they can allow it.

So if the problem is HIPPA, what happens when a US registered ship requires to send medical data about a sick crewman (or woman)? They don't have encryption.....Same for an aircraft. Which is why, I suspect, the 'in emergency' clauses exist.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"...These initiatives are nothing more than the EMCOM wackers seeking validation...."

BINGO! That is exactly what this initiative is--plainly and simply.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KC7KLZ on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hi All,

This is an interesting topic. To encrypt or not encrypt, that is the question....

I have heard it said, if more than two people know a secret it is no longer a secret...

In order for hams to be able to encrypt a message, they would have to be able to purchase the equipment to encrypt and decrypt the message. (This would be assuming we are talking about voice communications.)

What would stop someone from purchasing the equipment and decrypting the messages?? Just a thought??

Dose this mean only hams who would be able to help are the ones currently involved in Emergency service work?

This actually might not be a bad idea.

Another thought, I've been monitoring and watching the progress of the Ham MESH network groups. There has been discussions about how to be able to limit non-hams from getting on these networks, and keep it non-commercial. One thought is ... wait for it.... encryption.

Now lets say, they approve encryption. What is going to stop a repeater group from encrypting their repeater, and offering a subscription to use it?
(Yes, the can currently do it with PL tones, but a lot of radios have a PL tone scanner built into them.)

Another thought, How will the encryption technology effect the overall efficacy of the mode or band being used? Will it make passing necessary traffic harder?? Easier, because it will almost mandate that only trained volunteers be utilized?

An advantage that is currently in place, is most of us hams have an HT kicking around, and or mobile gear in our homes or cars. Almost all ham gear uses 12 volts, that by nature means we can get on the air in a quick manor. But because of encryption rules dose that mean we can't be a warm body if the situation dictates it??

I currently don't know what is the right way. My initial knee jerk reaction is leave things as they are.

These are just some thoughts.

'73

Eric Scott
KC7KLZ / VE7KLZ



 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KD8LXL on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
In my opinion, encryption defeats the self-policing nature of ham radio. How can we identify if the communication is appropriate for ham radio or not? Considering the latest NSA scandal, there's no reason for anyone to believe that encrypted communications are harmless. Does our own government see ham radio as a threat?

I'm also a first responder (and a first receiver as well) and if I'm not mistaken, we don't currently use patient's names during radio transmissions and we get info passed pretty darned well.
If we are needing to send sensitive info use a cell phone, a land line, or use an encrypted police radio

 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not sure that the desire for encryption is for voice communications or dispatching. I'm thinking that it is probably more along the lines of encrypting amateur radio based back ups for hospital networks that normally run encrypted over the Internet. Amateur radio could be used to get the traffic from a hospital that has lost Internet back to some point where it can be placed back on the Internet. The data is probably already encrypted end-to-end so no encryption hardware would be needed for the radio bypass link.

Encryption requires that both parties have identical encryption keys so anyone else listening is unable to decrypt the data.

While HIPPA regulations do not require encryption for the radio link, it is certainly highly recommended for anything that goes onto the Internet. It would be rather cumbersome to convert data to plain text before placing it on the radio link and then convert it back to encrypted as it leaves the radio link an goes onto the Internet for the remainder of its trip. From my reading, one of the things that served agencies would like to do is to make the back up radio links transparent to their users. They don't want hospital employees to have to be trained to do things differently during an emergency then they do normally. For example, if they normally use Microsoft Outlook for sending e-mail to other offices then they want to also use Outlook during an emergency.

Technically, encryption is not that big of a deal. You use it every time you do a bank transaction over the Internet.

I'm not trying to say whether or not encryption over amateur radio should be permitted under some circumstances, just trying to point out the request for encryption may be more complex than some are thinking here.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The following reasons for encryption were taken directly from the filing:

"It has been observed in a variety of contexts, that agencies served by amateur radio communications during emergencies perceive the following:
• that encryption of certain emergency data is required (e.g. specific patient information covered by HIPPA, identification of sheltered persons, etc.)
• that certain emergency information is required for tactical purposes to be encrypted (e.g. certain logistical information; movement of food, medical supplies, certain movements of personnel)
• that for national security reasons certain emergency communications should be encrypted"

To me, it seems that this filing is simply paranoia taken to an extreme. The first instance is already taken care of by HIPPA exemption. The second is moot, since such delicate information would be passed by public service radio systems--not by ham radio. The third instance is simply baloney since such 'national security' information will not for any reason be given to volunteers to pass in the first place!

Hospitals have backup data systems already, they don't need ham radio internet backup. That's just another nebulous reason that may be tried to push this ill conceived idea through.

Encryption should not be permitted on ham radio frequencies at all, and this filing is just some wild dreamer's idea of how himself and ham radio are 'indispensable' in emergency situations.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K5TED on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
There's no place in amateur radio for private encryption. Period.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AB7KT on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Sort of unrelated, but since it was brought up: Paramedics today typically use cell phones when communicating with the hospital. Part of it is due to HIPPA. But in addition you can send pictures and video. You can request a helicopter from your cell phone and they respond to the GPS cooridinates of your cell phone.

FWIW: I have worked professionally as a paramedic and a paramedic firefighter for approaching 30 years. I worked in one of the busiest EMS sytems in the country. I don't remember the last time I used a radio to talk to a hospital. I am now working part time for an agency in a different state. Right next to the radio in the back of the ambulance is an iPhone. I have never seen anyone use the radio yet.

AB8KT
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1DA on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe they can recruit a bunch of Navajos.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K8QV on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
<<Paramedics today typically use cell phones when communicating with the hospital. Part of it is due to HIPPA. But in addition you can send pictures and video. You can request a helicopter from your cell phone and they respond to the GPS cooridinates of your cell phone.

FWIW: I have worked professionally as a paramedic and a paramedic firefighter for approaching 30 years. I worked in one of the busiest EMS sytems in the country. I don't remember the last time I used a radio to talk to a hospital. I am now working part time for an agency in a different state. Right next to the radio in the back of the ambulance is an iPhone. I have never seen anyone use the radio yet.>>


You mean there's better and more appropriate technology than Ham Radio???? Who knew!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"Paramedics today typically use cell phones when communicating with the hospital."

And cell phones can never, ever go out? They are 100% reliable at all times, regardless of the situation?
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AB7KT on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"You mean there's better and more appropriate technology than Ham Radio???? Who knew! "

Well, we wouldn't be using ham radio anyway. However, everything we do, could be done just as well with ham radio without the privacy.

And, as long as there is cell phone service and the trunking radio network is functioning, everything is fine.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by NP3FS on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Ummm... I can foresee a "little" problem;

International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
Amateur and Amateur-satellite Service

Article 25
25.2A § 2.1bis) Transmissions between amateur stations of different countries shall not be encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning, except for control signals exchanged between earth command stations and space stations in the amateur-satellite service. (WRC-03)
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KC7KLZ on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I think AB7KT has it right. As long as the other systems are working why do they need ham radio?

Now lets say the cell phones stop working, and the trucked radio systems gets overwhelmed, who are they gong to call?? Yep, your right is isn't going to be the Ghostbusters.

So the question is why do they need to encrypt?? If the primary systems are down, and the backup systems are being overwhelmed, is anyone going to care whether or not the ad-hock, get the traffic moving system is encrypted or not?

The more I'm looking into this, the more I think we don't need encryption, so why legalize it?

'73

Eric Scott
KC7KLZ / VE7KLZ
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AB7KT on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I think one thing is being left out of this discussion: just because something is encrypted doesn't nessessarily mean that nobody else can copy it. As was mentioned, this isn't the Enigma machine. It isn't going to be in secret code. Anyone with the proper equipment could copy it. But it gives another layer of security against the casual listener.

If the FCC decided that we could use encryption, then they might specify a specific type of encryption. Then they can copy the traffic as well.

Something that we have done locally is to transmit people's names (in drills) such as lists of people in a shelter via digital modes. Not only do you get a nice clean list to print out and hand over to the incident commander, but it also avoids the problem of anyone with a scanner being able to listen in. Of course it wouldn't be that hard to listen in, but the average scanner owner isn't going to do that.

AB8KT
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
K8QV--Yes, that seems right, and if the cell phones DO go down, the Med-comm radio is right there--ready to be used. In any event, who is going to lug around a ham radio WITH encryption gear into the back of an ambulance?!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
And usually, the incident commander doesn't want a list of the names, he/she just wants to know if the shelter is getting full or not, or if they can send more people there. Of course, there is the possibility of the question--Is such and such at that shelter location? That question--or answer--really doesn't need to be encoded!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on June 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
To my prior--And what ambulance crew is going to let them!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by JOHNZ on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
We are not facing the real question. The question is not do we need encryption, rather we should ask ourselves who needs the hobby of amateur radio? We are just that, a hobby, and a hobby that was long ago overtaken by modern technology. Anyone who studies ham radio demographics can readily see the truth.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KD7YVV on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I too am against encryption on the ham bands.
I recently participated in my local ARES drill and
for the first time, CERT was included. Names weren't
given in the scenario, but some of the less experienced
operators and new operators were reporting location and
number of dead. During the hotwash, I explained that
anything said over a ham radio can be heard by anyone
with a scanner, and that they should NEVER broadcast
ANY information about a death. They were told, that
information should be given to the first responders
when they arrive on scene and never broadcast over
the air. Did they learn something? I sure hope so.
Then again, no one comes into this hobby fully experienced
and there are bound to be some snafus.
Will they do better next time? Hopefully so.
It's why we train. Even without encryption, things can
get fouled up. I just don't see a need for it on the
ham bands. 10 years into this hobby and I'm still
learning.

 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KM6CQ on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The government is not going to let ham's go "dark".
If encryption ever sees the light of day on our bands. Rest assured the government will have a back door in. Personally, I think it would be great to see on the fly encryption like "truecrypt" in use. But that is so far past most users, it would never happen.
The nature of ham radio is open source. And that has always kept this hobby alive. If it was to go dark, I think a lot of hams would tune out.
If two hams want to have and encrypted QSO, Its fine with me, I don't care and I do not want to be part of it.
So please do not misunderstand. I am only a advocate for encryption because hams should have a choice however, I will never use it.

73, Dan KM6CQ
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"Encryption - Anyone with the proper equipment could copy it."

Not true unless you use a weak encryption. The algorithms in use today are very difficult to break and even if you do, the keys typically change every few minutes.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AB7KT on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Which is exactly what hams would be using.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well, its technically pretty easy for hams to use a strong encryption. Its already built into Windows browsers and dedicated hardware is pretty inexpensive. For less than $100 you can buy a router that includes IPsec with AES256.

 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE7FD on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Just to repeat something since I know these threads are not always read completely through: You really should take the time to read the following (follow the link) with respect to the core question of encryption:

Go to AMSATs web site, specifically here:
http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/information/faqs/using-ham-freqs.php

The question is asked:

Q3: Our satellite will carry cameras that will take pictures of the separation sequence for xyz corporation, builders of the multiple payload adaptor. We will give them the pictures. They require we don't make them public in case they show something embarrassing or something that didn't work right. Is that OK?

The response is as follows. Read the ENTIRE answer.

A: No. Every transmission from an amateur station must be in 'plain language' or, in other words, in the clear. In the clear means that (1) technical descriptions of all emissions, codes, and formats are made publicly and widely available; and (2) technical descriptions must be sufficient to enable any technically competent licensed amateur radio operator to use the system. As a consequence, of course, all transmissions will be open to reception by anyone. (Encryption for critical spacecraft telecommand functions is accepted.)

My comment:
We all know, love and agree to, "Every transmission from an amateur station must be in 'plain language' or, in other words, in the clear..." No argument there. That's the law and rules today and it servers us well. But read on, "...Encryption for critical spacecraft telecommand functions is accepted."

In other words guys, ENCRYPTION IS BEING USED TODAY IN AMATEUR RADIO.

If an EMCOMM event is in progress I hope any bystanders will not insert themselves into the QSO's just to fulfill some twisted need to feel important. You might monitor those transmissions and even note with some curiosity the medical records of complete strangers you might hear. Hopefully, if common sense prevails and paranoia does not, limited encryption will be allowed and the interested parties of the EMCOMM traffic will be able to convey medical or other critical information without worrying that some jerk among the amateur radio ranks will gain access to it. Would the FCC prosecute an unlicensed member of your family who used your radio to call for help for you if it was a medical emergency because you we unable to call for yourself? I seriously doubt that. Would the FCC if it was NOT an emergency? More likely. The use of common sense and not paranoia seems to becoming a rarity among our ranks. We tolerate the abusers of 80 and 20 meters who seem to think they own certain frequencies transmitting over pre-existing QSO's just because it was occurring where they always hold their sacred sked or net. We tolerate this every day yet, we bicker like adolescents when a truly useful technology is proposed with limited usage. Could a terrorist group use that against us? Wouldn't they already do that today despite anyone's efforts to block it? Allowing a limited encrypting mode during EMCOMM will not open the doors to ruin any more than existing modes or techniques do today. What’s to prevent “the bad guys” from saying something like, “…the grain in Spain stays mainly in the plain…” How does that relate to radio; could that be an encrypted message? What if the parties in a QSO spoke in an obscure language most others simply did not know? With regards to U.S. amateurs, the law says plain language, it does not say English, so two U.S. hams could be speaking in Farsi. Is that reason enough to issue an all-points- bulletin with Homeland Security? On the other hand, if someone really wanted to do harm, what's to prevent them from altering their radio to transceive outside the amateur bands and exchanging encrypted or even plain data where virtually no one would even be listening? If we hear it within our bands then we're all ears, but most everyone stays within the bands. How supremely naive anyone is to think blocking encryption would thwart "the bad guys".

Run for the hills! Run for the hills! Everything will suddenly fail, the world will implode and amateur radio as we know will cease to exist now that the truth is out.

Get a grip.

IMHO,
G
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K6CRC on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Can't help but wonder. Is encryption 'bad' because it is, or because it is 'new and different'?

I got an earful in a recent QSO from an old timer who was lamenting the 'death' of ham radio, caused by 'CBers' and 'no-coders'. Apparently, there was no such thing as 'listening skills' in the ham training materials back when.

Not to judge a group by the actions of an individual, but how many Hams would fight anything new or different? Most seem progressive to this fairly new Ham, but at least a small group is still fighting the last war, the code requirement.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE7FD on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
...CRC, you say, "but how many Hams would fight anything new or different?"

You hit the nail on the head. I think I'm becoming an old timer (aren't we all!) but I for one think we need to adapt. Sure CW is a fine mode but so are newer modes. The whole idea is to communicate which all the modes do. Being a purest is what kills ham radio not progress.

G
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I guess it is easier to just say "no encryption" than to think about and suggest possible ways it could be implemented in a limited manner while maintaining proper controls. Or, perhaps it could be that I don't need encryption therefore nobody needs encryption.

"self policing" - right, we do such a great job of that now - just take a tune around 75 meters or 14.313
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N9AOP on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
As I have said before, I don't know why anyone in their right minds in the USA would want encryption on the ham bands. Having said that, I would not object to encryption so long as any ham that wanted to be able to would be able to de-encrypt the message.

These bands belong to us and not to a few secret-squirrel members that have their own agenda.

To the EMCOMM types, when you send a message, especially a list, it should be sent by some form of ARQ mode. Nothing worse than bits and pieces of the message garbled or lost.
Art
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by VE6EO on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Lots of interesting comments, up thread, but I think the horse has already left the barn, at least up here in Canada. There is a group of hams in Winnipeg, who use AES-256, with the tacit approval of Industry Canada.

Here is a quote from the website
--------------
SECURITY & ACCESS

Our repeaters operate in three modes: Analog, digital and digital-secure. We are publishing the keys required to participate on our machines in the digital-secure mode. You will require your own compatible radio(s) and other associated equipment to communicate on our repeaters.

AES-256: 5462D477DB49A9BC488C48F23F6E59E8FDD995CE96923AC4EE89E3964A9CE4E6 KID/LID: 1208 CKR: 00003

DES-OFB: A485677F04623473 KID/LID: 2AC4 CKR: 00004

http://www.mts.net/~keycom/ham/index.html

-------------

So it will be only a matter of money and time, before some ARES group up here decides to encrypt and the precedent has been set. We just had some flooding here, with four different ARES nets, relaying from various hospitals on various modes and bands, and there was no need for encryption. If a hospital is going to use hams via voice mode to relay my drug regime, I would be upset, but not if it was in the clear or not, but the fact it is being relayed by two medically unqualified individuals, who may make a mistake in pronounciation of the drug.

73 de VE6EO


 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WI8P on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I filed today. Not only would this make the self policing of the frequencies difficult to impossible, it would also open another communication path for criminals and/or terrorists. I can't begin to imagine why the intent of FCC would even consider this, but given their most recent appointee, I fear we will see this and much worse in the days to come.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AE6RO on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Being a simple Puerto Rican, I have a simple question.
If the signal is encrypted, how would anyone know if the senders are even hams? How would anyone even know who they are? John
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
VE6EO,

If that is the encryption key, it's published. Hams in the US can encrypt also AS LONG AS THE KEY IS PUBLISHED AND FREELY AVAILABLE! What this filing wants is to remove that requirement, that the key be available to anyone who wants to monitor. THAT is what all the hub-bub is about.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
If we are talking data transmissions, the content of the packets are encrypted but the headers containing the call signs are still clear text. Anyone can identify the two amateur call signs of the communicating stations just like they do now. Encryption does not have to hide the identity of the transmitting and receiving station.

 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by JOHNZ on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
We hams bicker over the most unimportant things. Concerning encryption in ham radio, I will quote the infamous remarks of the former U.S. Secretary of State, "Who Cares? What difference does it make"?
 
Help Keep Experimentation On the Air  
by AI2IA on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Here are some good old words from the FCC:
Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.(97.1b)
Encryption? Well, as long as it is not so narrowly defined by the rules so as to prevent experimentation, but merely permit its robot-like rigid use, then it should be encouraged. Let hams discover their own techniques to achieve encryption, then, yes! Let hams proceed.

However, do you think that in the Obama Age the freedom of hams to experiment will be tolerated? Well, indeed, isn't that a fine question? Perhaps, I should phrase it: Do you think that in the Obama Age freedom will be tolerated?
 
RE: Help Keep Experimentation On the Air  
by AE6RO on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well, don't worry about it. This thing will pass faster than a cat in a dog food factory. John
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N0AH on July 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
So Bruce....Iguess you helped get rid of the encryption already with the no code vs know code?
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KV4BL on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!

I hope the proposal is shot down. I know, I will sound totally "anti-progress" to some, but I think our bands are already too much being polluted with digital noise such as D-STAR and other garbage as it is.

I know the difference between encryption and digital for practical purposes, but much of this digital garbage such as D-STAR is already, in effect, encryption as far as someone who cannot afford the expensive (practically proprietary) equipment to use it is concerned. It is bad enough that I can no longer monitor the local secret police, who years ago, went to digital encryption because they thought they had something to hide from the public. Ham radio should remain as an "open" system so that we hams and even the interested public can listen and get a feeling for how things are going in their area in times of emergency and disaster.

I see this proposal, as others have already said, as a boost of self-importance for some em-comm people. Many of these folks already have access to public safety networks and their digital systems and occasionally encrypted channels. If you want to stroke your ego, use that encryption. It does not belong on the ham bands.

Simplicity is what will keep ham radio on the air and moving traffic, when the fancy, complex, digital and trunked systems have overloaded and folded. Encryption, as with a lot of the digital garbage now on the bands, only adds another unnecessary layer of complexity and therefore, additional opportunities for failure, to the ham radio link.

Keep it open. Keep it simple. Keep it reliable!

 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Some of the comments here are totally absurd--especially the one trying to re-ignite the code test debate.

It's no wonder why the FCC seldom listens to ham operators, when their comments and arguments just want to rehash old arguments--or start new ones!
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AF5DN on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Encryption is unnecessary and has no place in Amateur Radio. Encryption is also not 100% secure. It’s like the lock on the front door of your house. It only keeps the honest guy honest. No matter how good the encryption there is someone out there smarter than you and can figure out how to crack it. And will!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
So folks, just leave your front doors open since no lock is guaranteed 100%. Be sure to post your gun free zone sign so thieves will know not to worry about you trying to protect your property.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W1JKA on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Would ASL sent by CW to a deaf ham be considered encryption?
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Any good implementation of encryption changes the key on a regular basis. Imagine your door has a combination lock and the combination automatically changes every 20 minutes. Even if someone discovers the combination, it only works for a few minutes.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by G3RZP on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The use of encryption can not be considered to meet the requirements of the definition of amateur radio in the ITU Radio Regulations. Granted, the RR do not recognise the FCC emphasis on emergency communications, and whatever rules the FCC make for US hams are up to them. But what happens if the rest of the world decide that allowing encryption is 'not amateur radio' within the meaning of Article 25 of the RR, and thus decide that we don't need exclusive amateur bands? OK, it's no skin off the nose of all those people who have become hams just because of having V/UHF for EMCOMM: it could well be very different for all those others who have interests in experimentation, HF DX etc.

The TOTAL good of world wide ham radio needs considering here, not just the relatively few who want ham radio merely for EMCOMMS - despite what the FCC may say in Part 97..
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N9NFB on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The biggest problem is right out of the first few lines of part 97:

"Recognition and enhancement of
the value of the amateur service to the
public as a voluntary noncommercial
communication service, particularly
with respect to providing emergency
communications."

Emcom service to the public. Not some private company or the government.

The petition in front of the FCC claims various government agencies and corporations want encryption. I see no particular proof of it. It also does not explain why the public would be served by encryption, and they're the only group we're supposed to be serving... The government and private corporations are not supposed to be served by ham radio. Luckily, the .gov and .com needs can easily be met with licensing under existing land mobile rules, which allow encryption and all that stuff which is claimed without proof that they want.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with a bunch of volunteer IT guys using land mobile service radios and land mobile service frequencies to provide a free voluntary non-amateur radio service to the government and any private corporation. In fact, that would be great if they would do so and get off the ham bands, because that would free up valuable ham radio spectrum for public service emcom traffic operating under existing part 97 rules.

The petition also completely fails to explain why we need to blur the line between the existing land mobile radio service and the amateur radio service. There seems to be little point in, for instance, taxicabs passing encrypted, unmonitorable traffic on 146.52 mhz when there's a perfectly good land mobile service available to them. These services are distinct and well defined, for good reasons, and effectively policed. It does not seem in the best interest of either radio service to intentionally blur the borders between those services.

So lets see. Not a core value, incompatible with existing regs both generally and specifically. Violates several international treaties. No proof anyone actually wants it. There's a better existing radio service which works perfectly well with minor equipment and license changes. There are substantial theoretical downsides. Yup, taking all that into account, better ram this turkey thru (joke, just kidding, of course I oppose it)
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N9NFB on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It boils down to ignoring the FCC reg requiring emcomm service to the public. If we get rid of that, and replace it with "communication services to government and private corporations" then encryption solely for the benefit of those groups (not the public) would be compatible. The idea that the best way to serve the public is to not serve the public is fairly laughable. Right up there with the "we had to destroy the village to save the village".

Another interesting topic no one has discussed is that unfortunately, it seen as a badge of honor for some hams to brag about their inability to program a simple frequency and subaudible tone into a radio, much as some loudly brag about being unable to solder a simple RF or power connector, while others brag about being unable to solder surface mount components I've been soldering at home since Reagan was president. Now we want everyone involved in govt support / corporate support (this topic has nothing to do with serving the public) as a volunteer to program in 2048 bit encryption keys also... LOL get back to me on how that works out. Soon we'll hear stories about corporate profits being affected and government goals not being reached because radios can't be programmed correctly by hams because they'll be 100x harder to correctly program with a cryptosystem instead of plain old voice.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
G3RZP--Back up there! It is NOT the FCC emphasis on emergency communications, it is the ARRL who places the emphasis on emergency communications. All the FCC wants to see is that amateur operators have uses for the bands we occupy.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Let me clarify and expand on that. Even though the regs do specify emergency communications, it is not the type emergency communications that the group (person) who wants this rule change is referring to. The traditional role of the amateur service was to provide voluntary assistance to people to get messages to their families from trouble points--not to pass 'official' traffic--as this application for a rules change has specified.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by NP3FS on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
1. Are world cellphone's encrypted?
2. Does hospitals and ambulance staff use cellphones?
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WI9MJ on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The main reason for using ham radio in emergencies is the interoperability factor. How do you accomplish this with encryption?

If encryption is needed it should not be on the ham bands for the above reason, Mars already uses encryption so there are existing ways to accomplish this.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W1MSG on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Using HIPPA as an excuse for using encryption is ridiculous. EMS Services do not use encryption, you DONT GIVE THE PATIENTS NAME !!! There fore NO HIPPA Violation. Its the EMCOMM Zelots trying to make a place for themselves yet again. We dont use them and they wouldnt be allowed in our Communications center anyway. Giving a Volunteer access to someones medical info would be more of a violation in my opinion!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KB2CPW on July 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
oiigjjagjgdfhauhwreg;klasclsapeiqosyihgklffaoofuuefifhioef



whoops, my keyboard was set to encryption... ;-p
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N2OBM on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This is a classic case of 'be careful what you wish for'.

Although I am forbidden to officially comment to the FCC due to my employment, I am strongly against electronic encryption, or manual encryption, of voice messages in the amateur service.

There is no reason why a 'by line' report cannot be formulated, and be sent via a digital mode (i.e. line 1 = number of open beds at hospital xxx; line 7D = number of deceased infants at location 'Alpha').

Yes, it still obscures overall meaning...but encryption??

Let the professionals convey the 'hard stuff'...little Johnny Doe, age 5, is DOA...shot 5 times by the 'Dark Knight wanna-be'.

Yes, ugly example...but it articulates my point.

And this whole 'served agencies' thingy...someone please show me a documented REQUIREMENT, or even a implied request, that No Name County Sheriff's Office wants a volunteer radio operator to pass encrypted traffic.

If the information is truely 'life or death', there is already a(n) ITU, NTIA and FCC exemption to use any means available to convey that information to achieve assistance and possibly avert death.

I am passionate about this radio service. The wealth of knowledge I have gleaned has greatly assisted me to empower my employer...and I am keenly aware of what FirstNet may do to amateur radio as it might negate or minimize the value of 47CFR97.1(b)...but I assure you...we do not want to go down this rabbit hole!

 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N2OBM on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well that didn't take long...

Right after my post, an old friend called to discuss this very topic.

He was, and still is, very much into packet radio and digital HF modes...his answer...take text file, convert to binary, send over radio, convert back.

He also admitted that amateurs have been using PGP and packet radio 'for years' to send cyphered messages/content....well, what do you know?

I am still against this RM.

And for the smart @#$ that emailed me...Google AR 5-12.
Now get off my NUtS!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by JOHNZ on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Why would hams ever want to use encryption? It would vastly reduce the audience for a ham's favorite subject. All hams babble continually about themselves, their perceived world changing accomplishments, their possessions, etc. A ham's massive ego would be curtailed greatly by using encryption.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N1DVJ on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have mixed feelings on this one.

First off, I think the blanket ban on encryption should go. The total ban on encryption has kept hams from developing a realistically secure means of logging in over wireless to BBS systems and other similar functions. Sure, you can 'almost' get away with it using a token 'formula' but then isn't the token essentially encrypted. Hey, hams had to struggle to use ASCII.

On the other hand, you can cheat and do it now. Just encrypt packets and declare them as 'data'. There's no requirement that data has to make sense, and as long as it's sent inside a transparent envelope, you could argue it was in the clear.

Unfortunately the rules and the law have not kept up with technology. As hams, we are lagging far behind without a clear path. Dropping all rules about encryption could be a reactionary move with serious detrimental consequences.

But something does have to be done. I'm just not sure what.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I don't think the request is about hams taking over dispatch services for a hospital. It's probably about a ham radio digital link being used to pass traffic like e-mail requests that are already routinely encrypted by the hospitals. While HIPPA rules don't require encryption of radio links, it would be a major pain to convert to plain text, send it over the radio link, and then convert it back to encrypted again before sending it on its way via the Internet. Probably what they want to do is pass the encrypted traffic transparently over the temporary ham radio data link. That way the "users" do communications the same way during an emergency as they do every day. It is NOT about hams running around using encrypted HTs to talk to each other.

Encryption (even without published keys) is already permitted by the FCC for some ham radio uses like control links. Passing of encrypted traffic by ham radio during an emergency is already permitted in at least one country.

I'd rather see some reasonable thought given to how limited encryption could be permitted with controls to guard against misuse instead of all this arguing against it, much of which involves misunderstanding of how encryption works, what it does, or how it would be used.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W0CBF on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I am opposed to encryption and have filed my comments with the FCC. For one thing encryption would keep shortwave listeners from hearing our communications. If they cannot hear our conversations then they probably would not inspire them to get their licenses. The bands would turn into a spectrum of digital noise that could not be received except by the few who have the encryption key. What good would that do you, as you tune up and down the bands. As far as patient information and the HIPPA Act, let the professionals handle the emergency communications and use ham radio as a backup. Exactly how many times have you ever heard a ham transmit specic, personal information about a patient. In a triage you don't care "who" the patient is that is important. It is "what" inguries they have that is important. If what you are transmitting is that of personal information then use a cell phone so only the NSA can hear you. 73's
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Many here are still missing the point of this filing. These guys want the requirement of having the encryption key published and freely available done away with.

ENCRYPTION IS ALREADY PERMITTED ON THE HAM BANDS AS LONG AS THE KEY IS FREELY AVAILABLE! THAT is what this filing seeks to change.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Of course. Encryption isn't really encryption if everybody has the key. Their intent is to obscure the content in order to conform to what the hospital is already doing. While HIPPA doesn't require radio links to be encrypted, it does require reasonable protection of the personal information and that probably translates to encryption before it is placed on a wide access network like the Internet.

FCC already permits encryption intended to obscure the content in cases like protecting satellite control links.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AE6RO on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Like, this will pass like sh*t through a goose. John
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W9IQ on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I think the notion that encrypting amateur radio transmissions is permitted by the current regulations as long as the key or algorithm is published is completely ludicrous.

The FCC regulations state amateurs may not transmit "messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning". The only purpose of encryption is to obscure the meaning of the message. The issue of publishing the key or algorithm does not negate this.

People often confuse authentication, authorization, non-repudiation, and validation with encryption. These all come out of the field of cryptography but they are not encryption. In the context of Amateur Radio, there are well established cryptographic standards for authentication for example, that would not be considered a message encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning. The ubiquitous nature of the authentication sequence makes it clear that its purpose is authentication. In fact, no part of the authentication message is obscured - it is passed in the clear.

- Glenn W9IQ
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by STRAIGHTKEY on July 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Considering all the dumb conversations I hear on 80 meter phone, I would be happy if encryption would be used so I didn't have to hear the asinine talk.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
If the key is published, the meaning isn't really hidden, since the key to read it is available. Now, if the key is NOT available...
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"I think the notion that encrypting amateur radio transmissions is permitted by the current regulations as long as the key or algorithm is published is completely ludicrous."

Maybe so, but it is true. The 802.11 guys are using the built-in encryption to keep non-hams out of their systems. Licensed hams are provided the key when they ask for it. The purpose of the encryption is NOT to obscure the meaning of the content, but rather to keep unlicensed persons from using it.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W9IQ on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Chris,

The regulations address the "purpose" of encoding, not the method or algorithm. If your "purpose" of using encryption is to obscure the meaning of the message, then you are in conflict with this section. It has nothing to do with the publication or distribution of keys or algorithms.

Perhaps you can describe your "purpose" for using encryption other than to obscure the meaning of the message?

- Glenn W9IQ

 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W9IQ on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Bob,

You stated that "The 802.11 guys are using the built-in encryption to keep non-hams out of their systems.". I checked with the popular site for this service and got into a long thread there about encryption. It turns out that the default settings on the hacked WiFi boxes have encryption turned off. It could of course be turned on by a knowledgeable person.

More importantly, to keep people off of their 802.11 systems, they do not need encryption, they need authentication and authorization. As I said in my previous post, cryptographic techniques are used for this but not encryption.

- Glenn W9IQ
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The purpose of the encryption is to keep unlicensed persons from using the system. Yes, a system could be developed to authenticate users without using encryption, but the encryption is already built into the equipment they are using. The FCC has determined that as long as the key is made available to licensed hams then they can use the existing encryption for that purpose.

Remember, 802.11 uses some of the same frequencies for both unlicensed and licensed (hams) users. Licensed users can run high power and use external high gain antennas that cannot be legally made available to unlicensed users.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W9IQ on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Bob,

You state that "The FCC has determined that as long as the key is made available to licensed hams then they can use the existing encryption for that purpose." I have not been able to find any rulings from the FCC that state this. It seems to be nothing more than opinions of hams. Simply because some people are already doing it or that they are just using existing technology and have not been cited cannot be regarded as tacit approval by the FCC.

Are you able to provide a reliable reference from the FCC?

I should also point out that encryption does not keep non-hams from using 802.11 systems. It is the authentication mechanism used in 802.11 that would do that. This is part of the WiFi security specifications but it is not done through encryption.

- Glenn W9IQ
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K8QV on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
ERMAHGERD!!! ENCRYPTION!!!! THE END OF HAM RADIO!!!


 
RE: Encrypted Ham Porn? Moo-ha-ha!  
by NX5MK on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Fantastic write up from W7ASA! You are right on :)

Convinced me to redouble my efforts to learn CW faster than I planned to. So, after reading your most amusing reply, I went to learn another letter. I already knew ... (I mean, who doesn't know ...---... ?!) and I knew . but I now finally also learned -..- since I also need to be able to recognize when W1AW gets to the good part :))

vy 73 W7ASA de KD0JKM
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Glenn, First, It isn't MY purpose, since I'm against this foolishness in the first place. All I'm doing is to comment on the regs and the directions the FCC has made and is enforcing. You may be right in stating that the fact that 'if the key is published,' isn't the intent of the regs, but the FCC has affirmed that--however unintentionally--through the wording of the regs.

I suppose their original intent was the digital modes that are 'encoded' for transmission, but as both you and I well know, rules and regs can be twisted to something that is valid through the wording but is never intended to be applied--and both the agencies and the courts have no choice but to agree with the twisted intent, since the wording proves to be trumping the intent.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W9IQ on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Chris,

Are you able to provide a reliable reference from the FCC that what you suggest is allowed?

Most of this can be traced to a poorly reasoned article that appeared in CQ years ago. I have in other postings pointed out the flaws of that article.

By focusing on the purpose rather than the method, I find the wording of the FCC regulation to be timeless. It addresses someone using simple CW or verbal cyphers as well as digital encryption.

- Glenn W9IQ
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AE6RO on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe I should have said, "this thing will pass as if it shot through a goose."

If ham radio today was so great I'd probably be using my rig instead of this computer.

Isn't it obvious that encrypted transmissions could be sent by anyone, even unlicensed, uh, individuals?! John
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Glenn, I don't know of anything officially published by the FCC that says 802.11 encryption is okay so long as the key is published. I think the fact that they haven't told anyone to shut down their system indicates that they go along with the interpretation that using the encryption with the key published is "encoding for transmission purposes" in the same manner that they permit various encoded digital modes.

While it is the authentication that they are after, without making firmware changes there is no way to turn on authentication while leaving the encryption off.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
No, I can't, Glenn. It was word of mouth as stated to hams at a gathering years ago. As I remember, it was during the discussion of digital modes and the encryption concerning those and other modes.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W9IQ on July 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
When an 802.11 access point is re-purposed for amateur radio use, its firmware is typically modified (re-flashed). Take at look at the hsmm-mesh site if you would like to get the details. At the time that the firmware is being modified, the encryption is turned off. A user would need to purposefully turn on encryption. I started a thread last year on this topic (under my DJ0IQ call):

[url]http://hsmm-mesh.org/index.php?option=com_ccboard&view=postlist&forum=1&topic=163&Itemid=67[/url]

If the amateur radio community would like to make use of the authentication and authorization portions of the firmware, it would be relatively easy to do so without using the encryption features. Even simply turning on MAC filtering provides a weak level of authentication.

I think it unwise to assume simply because the FCC has not written any citations that they are OK with the use of encryption in this mode. Consider the number of violations that occur every day against other amateur rules that are not cited. In the case of 802.11, imagine the difficulty for the FCC to even observe the violation.

I hope that the request for rule making results in a definitive statement regarding the permissibility of encryption.

- Glenn W9IQ
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA9K on July 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've also filed my opposition to this proposal. I think allowing encryption in our communications needs to be studied thoroughly before it is implemented. This is another example of rushing to implement technology that could have significant repercussions.

If the reason behind the proposal is to enhance emergency communications for FEMA purposes, then I am vehemently against it. The FEMA Incident Command System which is commonly used by amateurs now, even in non-emergency situations, imposes a structured communications system, bloated with numerous forms that will be filed but never read, making us look more like a branch of the Federal Government than the amateur radio service.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N9LCD on July 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
At least twice a week I can copy paramedics enroute to the local trauma center relaying the patient's vital signs, the patient's medications, and the medications (including oxygen) being administered to the patient while "in transit".

IF PARAMEDICS DON'T USE ENCRYPTION, AND APCO 25 , ISN'T ENCRYPTION, THEN WHY DO HAMS NEED ENCRYPTION???

I guess it's like all the idiots in their Masarattis who "just have to do" 140 an hour on the interstate because the car can.

N9LCD

 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KB3JQJ on July 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
How rare of an instance is this? Think about it. If I want patient information I just need to turn on my local police, fire, & EMS scanner. After 9-11-2001 every public service radio in the US was supposed to go encrypted. It's lucky if it even made it to 5% of the systems did. Most non-strategic areas use radio systems dating back to the 1950's & they regularly pass all kinds of stuff. I've heard social security numbers, patient's medical history, & even when SWAT was going to burst into a house for a hostage rescue. All sent out on normal everyday communications lines in the clear. If you want encryption, utilize it where it is most needed: the Security of the Homeland.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N9LCD on July 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The only thing that's digital (unknown mode) in Chicago is the Chicago Fire Department and the F.D. paramedics. And that was so that they could give each firefighter and each paramedic a handheld. Something close to 1,750 units.

The Chicago Police Department runs 22 channels, 13 covering one or more districts and nine City-Wide channels by type of unit or operation.

I suppose that with something like 140 frequencies assigned to Office of Emergency Management and Communications, there's a few encrypted ones hidden away.

The problem with encrypted radios is physical security of the radios. Whenever a chief's buggy disappears, the radio is always missing. And quarters are not exactly secure; disappearance of handhelds do occur.

N9LCD
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by W2RWJ on July 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
If the proposers of this change can provide me with *one* served agency that has requested the ability to encrypt this traffic I would consider it.

Until then, my personal position is there is no need for encryption in amateur radio.

73 Martin
W2RWJ

BTW, Healthcare communications *is* my day job.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by N9LCD on July 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Ralph:

Turn on your scanner. You may luck-out and get:

Name of credit card holder;
Card number;
Expiration date;
Three-digit "security" code.

All from a cabbie who doesn't have a wireless cazrd terminal in his cab!!!

I've copied , written down, this info MORE THAN ONCE!!!

N9LCD
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KB5PQL on July 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I would love to experiment with encryption! I'm OK with rules and regulations regarding it too! Perhaps we can add rules like every other time you ID you can encrypt. It's about trying new stuff! It's about learning and expanding horizons! Let's do this. :D
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by AA4PB on July 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Encryption doesn't mean that you have to encrypt the call signs. When you use encryption on the Internet you only encrypt the payload of the packet, not the IP addresses. If you encrypted the IP addresses then the routers along the line wouldn't know where to send the packet. The same process would work for ham radio digital modes. The call signs (which equate to the source and destination IP addresses) would be sent in plain text so that anyone could identify them but the payload (the actual data you are trying to protect) is encrypted.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KO3D on July 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This is the ultimate consequence of the obsession with EMCOMM and things like DSTAR. In the worst case it may be the end of amateur radio as we know it. I do not mean that as hyperbole. Within the next ten years we will lose most of our UHF+ spectrum to wireless companies, even if hams cured cancer, prevented WW3, and conducted a Mars mission. There was no reason to attempt to ingratiate the hobby further with the public safety community. Money is all that can save it and wireless companies are far richer than 700K hams. Now we are tied in with HIPAA, Obamacare, and DHS. Why don't we just connect our radios to PRISM and begin gathering SIGINT for the NSA? Surely that would show the powers that be that we deserve amateur radio!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by NT4TN on July 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
> How does that make any sense? "not appropriate" is mostly defined as too offensive to be on the air.. However, how can you be offended by something you can't decode?

Commercial use. You might be interested in the longer version of this argument I gave here:

http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.comp.telephony.freetel.codec2/1898


(You may also note that I also argue towards encryption as potentially an enabling technology in the SHF+ bands, part of why I hold that view is precisely because of the mooting of "offense" which you are focusing on)
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by NT4TN on July 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
> How does that make any sense? "not appropriate" is mostly defined as too offensive to be on the air.. However, how can you be offended by something you can't decode?

Commercial use. You might be interested in the longer version of this argument I gave here:

http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.comp.telephony.freetel.codec2/1898


(You may also note that I also argue towards encryption as potentially an enabling technology in the SHF+ bands, part of why I hold that view is precisely because of the mooting of "offense" which you are focusing on)
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K0RGR on July 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I filed my comments some time ago. I favor VERY limited encryption, only on frequencies above 902 MHz., and simply for the purpose of protecting amateur 802.11 Mesh Networks. It should be possible to exclude non-amateurs from ham 802.11 networks. It makes no sense to allow Part 15 systems to use WPA or WEP encryption, but not allow Part 97 stations using the same protocols on the same bands to do the same thing. The Part 97 stations are still limited to 1 watt in that mode.

Individual data files should be allowed to be encrypted as long as all other parts of the transmission are in the clear, and ONLY when actually engaged in bonafide disaster relief situations.

As others have stated, there are ways around HIPAA. You can use patient numbers, telephone numbers, triage numbers, initials and dates of birth, etc.. Already, today, you can make the data pretty well unreadable without any encryption - simply send it as a binary file, perhaps as a PDF, and compress it. No encryption involved...

However, HIPAA does NOT provide a blanket exception for emergencies - the hospitals involved must document the planned use of open communications in an emergency IN ADVANCE. Getting this to happen will involve endless sessions with hospital lawyers, who are unlikely to take the chance.

And, the hospitals are not the only ones who need to deal with it. Red Cross has an even broader rule that client names are never transmitted in the clear. This is not a silly rule, either. But in a real disaster, hams working a Red Cross shelter should be able to send periodic lists of the people in the shelter, securely. Otherwise, it should all be in the clear.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"...Red Cross has an even broader rule that client names are never transmitted in the clear. This is not a silly rule, either. But in a real disaster, hams working a Red Cross shelter should be able to send periodic lists of the people in the shelter, securely. Otherwise, it should all be in the clear...."

The Red Cross also has their own radio system which can be used for this purpose. If there is a problem with an organization and its rules that require keeping transmitted data secret, that data does not belong on the ham bands--or anywhere near a ham radio operator, for that matter.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K4RAF on July 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Just another example of ham radio losing its' "cutting edge"

DO you think VoIP is "in the clear"???
- EchoLink uses it

DO you think OFDM is encryption???
- It's a modulation scheme used in wireless broadband radios that share ham radio frequencies on 902-928MHz, 2.4, 3.5 & 5.7GHz...

If you are responsible for the throughput, you should have the "key"...

END of my argument: ALLOW it, with common key(s) provided & get over yourselves...

Ham Radio as "Cutting Edge"??? National Hurricane Center using EchoLink to have hams claim Ham Radio is "saving the day"??? It's NOT RADIO, it's telephone protocol!!!

Plleeeaaaassssseeeeee!!!
 
Encryption on the ham bands?  
by KG4CLD on July 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Worried about the use of encryption on ham bands? Many governments and other entities worldwide have been doing that for years. Even if they oppose it openly, it still happens anyway. With today's technology, I doubt you would even notice...
 
Encryption on the ham bands?  
by KG4CLD on July 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Worried about the use of encryption on ham bands? Many governments and other entities worldwide have been doing that for years. Even if they oppose it openly, it still happens anyway. With today's technology, I doubt you would even notice...
 
Encryption on the ham bands?  
by KG4CLD on July 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Worried about the use of encryption on ham bands? Many governments and other entities worldwide have been doing that for years. Even if they oppose it openly, it still happens anyway. With today's technology, I doubt you would even notice...
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WB6DGN on July 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"I hope the proposal is shot down. I know, I will sound totally "anti-progress" to some, but I think our bands are already too much being polluted with digital noise such as D-STAR and other garbage as it is."

Not to mention that newfangled SSB; whatever THAT is!
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WB6DGN on July 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"Any good implementation of encryption changes the key on a regular basis. Imagine your door has a combination lock and the combination automatically changes every 20 minutes. Even if someone discovers the combination, it only works for a few minutes."

That's great, as long as it takes at least 21 minutes to figure out the combination; if it only takes 2 minutes, you're still in trouble.

In the case of higher level encryption algorithms, the name of the game is to make it take too long to matter, even with the fastest computers available.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WB6DGN on July 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"The use of encryption can not be considered to meet the requirements of the definition of amateur radio in the ITU Radio Regulations..."

It was my understanding that ITU had limited (to no) interest in frequencies that, customarily, did not transit a nation's borders and that is how the US no-code tech. license was allowed to exist before code was eliminated world wide.
Since the "emcomm" request is related to VHF and higher frequencies, I don't believe that ITU would have an interest in the issue.

I, personally, have no opinion about this issue as stated but I do hate to see any aspect of technology taken off the table for experimentation. All it takes is ONE brilliant, here-to-fore unrecognized individual to make a significant contribution. That cannot happen if the technology is "verboten". However, whether emcomm hams need encryption, I don't know and, frankly, I don't care.
Tom
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by WB6DGN on July 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"It boils down to ignoring the FCC reg requiring emcomm service to the public."

I take issue with the word "requiring" in this statement. While the FCC lists this as ONE of the activities that an Amateur might pursue, nowhere do they state that any given amateur must meet and/or comply with all of their stated reasons. If they WERE required to do so, there wouldn't be very many legitimate/legal amateurs in the US. The list is simply a list of the reasons why the FCC instituted the service; choose ONE or MORE according to one's interest and ability.

Its unfortunate that so many amateurs believe that their particular interest is the "be all and end all" which is essential to the continued value and existence of this hobby.

Emcomm is no more required of any individual amateur than are they required to "further the radio art". As that old saw from the '60s says; "different strokes for different folks".
T
 
Encryption is counter to our founding principles  
by VA1DER on July 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Those that have used HIPAA as a reason to support encryption have obviously not read Bruce Peren's comments to the FCC (http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7520929151). Besides the fact that HIPAA doesn't actually require encrypted communication for emergencies, and besides the fact that HIPAA defines private medical information as medical information that includes a way to identify the person, there is a much older legal concept at work called "quod est necessarium est licitum", which is to say, that which is necessary is legal. Let's say I'm lost in the woods and I'm freezing to death and I come across a locked cabin. I pound on the door but no one is home. If I subsequently break in to that cabin, I can't be convicted of break and enter because it was necessary to preserve life.

This is a very old, and very entrenched legal principle. I do not know of a country in the free world that does not incorporate it into its body of common law.

Now imagine this. A hospital is in communication with an amateur radio operator who is trying to relay emergency medical information. The hospital says to engage encryption and the amateur responds he is not so equipped. What do you think would cause the greater public outcry: A) the hospital letting private medical information be passed over an open transmission, or B) the person dying because vital information could not be passed? Where do you think that hospital is going to be in greatest fear of a lawsuit from?

Encryption is simply not necessary. Above that, it is inherently divisive. People are writing articles here on how CTCSS has diminished the accessibility of 2m. What do you think encryption will do? Encryption simply flies in the face of the spirit of openness and accessibility that amateur radio was founded on. We want people to monitor and see what we do. We WANT people to listen on shortwave radios and scanners and think, yes, I want to get my amateur radio license too. We do not want to become a bunch of little cliques.

 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by NC4TB on July 24, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It's hard enough to find a contact now without having them encrypted and therefore unavailable to those without encryption gear. I thought ham radio was supposed to be about fellowship and friendly contacts, not about the elite snubbing the "amateurs". What have they to hide that they don't want the rest of us to hear? Hospital emergency communications can be done with privacy without going to encryption.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by JOHNZ on July 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
@NC4TB
Tell me more, how hospital communications can be done in private, without using encryption?
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by K1CJS on July 31, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
HIPPA applies to hospitals and regular hospital communications. During emergencies, there are in the HIPPA regs allowances for communications needed that can be done without encryption.

The claim that the people who are seeking this rule change make about encryption being necessary for such communications is entirely without truth.
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KE4SKX on August 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
FYI
Encryption is currently allowed for the setup and maintenance of amateur satellites. That would be the only use I would support.

73

Rick
 
Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by NT9E on August 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Encryption only exists if you have nothing to decode the transmission with (Hardware/Software).
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KG4CJV on August 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe encryption can be done with oversight. For example, we could implement rules such as for every encrypted transmission there must be one person no vested in the communication in anyway monitoring to verify that the communication is not violating any laws?

So, before any situation that requires encryption can be setup a person who has no interest in the situation at hand (and maybe this person can be appointed somehow?) will be given a radio/equipment. Heck that person doesn't even need to be a ham, they can just be a hospital staff.
 
RE: Help Keep Encryption Off The Air  
by KA9HJZ on August 18, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hi. this is for K8WRQ. I know my grammar and punctuation is not very good but I can spell the word dangerous better than you. HI HI
 
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