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Author Topic: Once again whackers wanna screw up the hobby... Encryption  (Read 130602 times)
LA9XSA
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« Reply #60 on: July 07, 2013, 11:11:41 AM »

Communications emergencies can have trivial causes. A software bug, a backhoe digging over a cable, at the same time as an old tree falls over the other cable, etc. I'm going to make a post later in the other thread listing a few such incidents from the US and even some countries with more modern and robust infrastructure than the US.

Going back to the encryption question:

It seems a few people has some kind of fixed idea that what band radio traffic takes place in magically makes it more or less secure. It's not really rocket science, but it's computer science: If you can correctly transmit a byte accurate message from point A to point B in the clear, you are also able to transmit the same message after encrypted by encryption system like that used by the served agency on their regular data links, or GPG, SMIME, etc. The main concern here would be throughput - namely that depending on what facilities you have - NBEMS, Pactor, AX-25, D-Rats microwave or 2m, etc, the bandwidth would be lower than they're used to - which would need to be simulated in exercises.
Training needs to be as real world as possible...  They should send an encrypted message, EXACTLY like the one they might send in the real world...
The example I used before was that you don't do live fire exercises in the middle of town. Also you don't set fire to the local general hospital to do an evacuation drill - maybe you don't even evacuate any real patients either, but use volunteers playing patients.

The point here is that the volunteer communicators only need to be concerned with getting the message or data stream from point A to point B, via their operating practices. They are not to originate their own messages, gossip, or concern themselves with the content of the message. If they are to involve themselves in encryption anyway, they don't need to send the encrypted message out on the air during an exercise.

For example, on the originating end, the secret message could be assigned a sequence number, encrypted with an appropriate pre-shared key or asymmetric key, and sent via phone or internet to the receiving end, while a cleartext message of the same length gets transmitted via amateur radio, bearing the same number, the same size, and starting with something like "This message is simulated message number 023 in Orange County ARES exercise July 06 2013. The following placeholder text intends to pad the message to the correct length. Lorem ipsum dolor etc." Only when this message has been received with a correct checksum on the receiving end, is the secret payload message that was passed via phone decrypted and delivered. To avoid "cheating" in the exercise, you can have the judges of the exercise provide this matching. In the real emergency, the only change would be to send the encrypted message itself over the air, actually being easier than what you did in the exercise.

At least that's one way to do it without having to deal with rule changes and having foreign governments complain.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2013, 11:20:26 AM by LA9XSA » Logged
N3HFS
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Posts: 208




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« Reply #61 on: July 07, 2013, 12:05:43 PM »

It's not really rocket science, but it's computer science: If you can correctly transmit a byte accurate message from point A to point B in the clear, you are also able to transmit the same message after encrypted by encryption system like that used by the served agency on their regular data link...

You've said all this before, and I agree with you that encryption is NOT needed to test the integrity and throughput of digital data.  Encryption can be tested with an extremely high degree of confidence in a modular way, as a portion of a testing plan which does not require transmission of encrypted information over the air.

I am also generally against any kind of non-emergency use of encryption on ham bands.  Any request to the FCC for such activity that I would even consider supporting would have to be much better conceived than this one.  A good example is the current sole exception for control of a space-based station.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #62 on: July 07, 2013, 04:01:59 PM »

Both those times the whole region lost communications, not just the hospital.  That indicates a serious lack of infrastructure planning for the entire area--and that is why this came to pass.  You people were making it sound like just the hospital lost their communications equipment.  I find it hard to believe that the hospital didn't have other equipment installed that could connect them to the outside world--especially after the first incident in 2010.  

Still, the use of ham radio during this GREATER emergency did not require the use of encryption, simply because the law is not so inflexible that it wouldn't recognize that emergency, and HIPPA laws specifically permit the passing of non-encrypted messages during emergencies like that--especially communications loss of that magnitude.  Encryption is still not needed in the ham radio service--and you still can't try the "only way to pass messages" since the article said nothing about the public service/safety radio systems being out.
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W9IQ
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« Reply #63 on: July 09, 2013, 06:14:11 AM »

I pointed out earlier in this thread, the guidance from OCR - the department within Health and Human Services that enforces CFR Title 45 Part 164 privacy regulations related to HIPPA - is that encryption of radios is not required. This applies in normal and emergency conditions.

- Glenn W9IQ
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N9LCD
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« Reply #64 on: July 09, 2013, 08:15:31 AM »

Pull out your hand-held and program it to the public service bands.  You'll hear paramedics and trauma centers passing patient vitals over the air, in PLAIN ENGLISH!

AND MEDICATIONS BEING ADMINISTERED!

AND TREATMENTS / CARE BEING GIVEN!

Any day!  Every day!

Heck, from monitoring Chicago Police. I even know where the local "doper" lives!

If encryption for hams goes through, maybe uniforms, badges and Glocks will be next!

N9LCD
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K5LXP
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« Reply #65 on: July 09, 2013, 08:52:17 AM »


Even Wacker High Command isn't in favor of it.  This should take the wind out the wackers' sails a bit.

ARRL Urges Denial of Petition to Permit Encryption of Some Emergency Communications

http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-urges-denial-of-petition-to-permit-encryption-of-some-emergency-communications


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K1CJS
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« Reply #66 on: July 09, 2013, 11:22:50 AM »

Dawggone!  I guess I'm going to have to rethink my position on what the ARRL is doing.  Again.   Shocked
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KB1SF
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« Reply #67 on: July 11, 2013, 11:13:00 AM »

Why would anyone in their right mind, whether an ENCOMM or otherwise, want to send encrypted stuff on the ham bands.  There are other venues available where encryption can be used.
Art  

Indeed.

It also seems these days that a number of hams (and a number of ham radio-related organizations like the ARRL) are pounding the drum that one of the main reasons we exist (as a separate radio service) is to provide emergency communications (EMCOMM) in times of disaster.

Specifically, they cite a long laundry list of fundamental purposes for our Service as outlined in the FCC's Part 97…specifically Part 97.1…. which state in part that:

"The rules and regulations in this Part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

(a) 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.

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill."


Now some will also argue that these rules provide us with the ultimate authority of why we exist and what we are supposed to be doing.

WRONG!

The ULTIMATE authority for what we do is not contained in FCC Part 97!

Rather, it is the International Telecommunications Union (the ITU) that establishes and maintains the Amateur Radio Service in the International Radio Regulations.  As the United States is a signatory to the treaty that established the ITU, those rules have the force of law in the United States.

Sadly, few US Hams realize that ALL of these "other" reasons as to why we exist are not present in the International definition of our Service.  Our own FCC has ADDED them all.  And, to the best of my knowledge, this long "laundry list" of words defining our Service exists nowhere else on the planet.

Specifically, the FCC's "particularly with respect to emergency communications" verbiage (along with all that other nonsense about "expanding an existing reservoir within the Amateur Radio Service of trained technicians") as spelled out in our Part 97 is absolutely and completely absent from the ITU's definition of our Service

As I've noted before, that definition (in Article 1.56 of the ITU rules) simply states that ours is to be:

"A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest"  (my emphasis added)

Would someone please show me where it specifically authorizes (or even allows!) EMCOMM or "technician reservoir building" activities in any of that?

It seems to me the FCC very clearly "muddied the waters" back in the mid 20th Century when they added all that EMCOMM verbiage (along with their "expanding pool of trained operators, technicians and electronics experts" eyewash...nonsense they also no doubt used to justify their so-called "incentive licensing" foolishness) to further define who we are and what we do.

However, by turning our Service into something that goes well beyond both the spirit and intent of the simple ITU definition of why we exist...on a number of fronts...the predecessors of today's FCC who wrote all that garbage into Part 97.1 were the ones primarily responsible for laying the groundwork for most (if not all) of the current EMCOMM controversy about the blatant pecuniary interest implications of such activity...and, now....whether (or not) to encrypt those communications.

Clearly, what our own gormless FCC bureaucrats (and their ARRL handlers) apparently forgot (or ignored) way back then is the fact that sometimes, less really is more.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
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N3HFS
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« Reply #68 on: July 12, 2013, 06:04:22 AM »

Rather, it is the International Telecommunications Union (the ITU) that establishes and maintains the Amateur Radio Service in the International Radio Regulations.  As the United States is a signatory to the treaty that established the ITU, those rules have the force of law in the United States.

Sadly, few US Hams realize that ALL of these "other" reasons as to why we exist are not present in the International definition of our Service.  Our own FCC has ADDED them all.  And, to the best of my knowledge, this long "laundry list" of words defining our Service exists nowhere else on the planet.

I don't argue that the ITU doesn't give EMCOMM as a justification for the Amateur Radio Service.  But the ITU must provide language that is suitable for virtually all governments of the world, and must endorse the lowest common denominator in order to gain worldwide acceptance.

If an individual country wishes to expand on this (as you say the FCC has done in the United States), I see no reason why this should be viewed as illegitimate.  There may be some countries that don't wish the Service to be used in this manner, and they are free to sign on with the ITU Agreement without being obligated to do so.  Much as with third-party traffic, some countries may wish to allow it and some may not - the ITU does not include the passing of third-party traffic as a fundamental part of the Amateur Service, but perhaps some individual countries would, and those countries might even agree to allow other like-minded countries to share in such traffic.

In the United States as in all other nations, the domestic regulatory body has not only the right, but also the obligation to describe the purpose and justification of each Service as it sees fit, being bound only by the minimum parameters that an international treaty requires.

Quote
The ULTIMATE authority for what we do is not contained in FCC Part 97!

I do disagree with you on this.  You use the words ULTIMATE authority where I'd use words  like minimum standards.
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W9FIB
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« Reply #69 on: July 12, 2013, 06:09:19 AM »

Nice explanation Keith. However I would point out that the ITU does not preclude the sovereign signatory entities from their own rules and regulations to implement and maintain amateur radio or any other service. Otherwise there would be 1 set of rules for all hams in all signatory entities, which there is not. So for good or for bad, the FCC has written their own regulations to regulate hams in the USA. Just as other countries have their own agencies that do the same thing.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #70 on: July 12, 2013, 08:28:20 AM »

What U.S. ham has ever received a notice of violation from the ITU? Violation notices to U.S. hams will come from the FCC and they will reference the Part 97 rule that you violated. The ultimate authority for U.S. hams is the FCC and their regulations are in Part 97.

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N3HFS
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« Reply #71 on: July 12, 2013, 11:25:09 AM »

Here's some information that might be interesting to learn about based on a little internet research on my part...

Keep in mind that the first U.S. regulation of the airwaves took effect in December, 1912 (http://earlyradiohistory.us/1912act.htm)

from http://earlyradiohistory.us/sec012.htm:
Quote
EARLY  PUBLIC  SERVICE

Because of the lingering concern that the government might someday eliminate their stations altogether, amateurs did make a conscious effort to improve their reputation with the general public. Setting up emergency communications became one of the most important amateur services -- The Wireless Amateur in Times of Disaster, from the April, 1913 issue of Modern Electrics, reported how amateurs provided assistance during a flood in the midwest. Two years later a second, smaller, flood affected the same area, and afterward The Ohio Flood from the Commerce Department's March, 1915 Radio Service Bulletin announced the government's plan to issue Special Amateur licences to prominent amateur stations in the region, in order to provide emergency communication. This plan was reviewed in Floods and Wireless by Hanby Carver from the August, 1915 Technical World Magazine, as the author proclaimed that "Thus has the 'ham' come into his own. At first ignored, he kept plugging away at simple experiments with his crude apparatus. Then as his feeble signals became perceptible to the powerful commercial stations he was made the butt of ridicule... Now he is a necessity--an auxiliary to the forces of national public welfare--and the Government feels the need." Other examples of public service were covered in articles such as News Out of the Air from the May, 1914 issue of Electrical Experimenter, which announced that the Central Kansas Radio Club was planning to "furnish the smaller papers of the state with the news from neighboring towns" for free, while in Iowa a farmer posted weather reports and other news for his neighbors, as reviewed in How Radio Brought the News to the Farm, from The Electrical Experimenter for July, 1917. In 1922, Charles William Taussig reported in The Story of Radio (Airplane extract) how amateurs once notified a local airport about a lost mail pilot, helping to bring him in safely.

This predated the League of Nations, the United Nations, and even the ARRL.

Another interesting section describes early Amateur organized (club) activities, which appear to center more on communications than science.  This makes me believe that organized Amateur Radio (at least in the U.S.A.) has its birth in both technology and communications.  Quite honestly, I'm not sure how it couldn't!

Quote
RADIO  LEAGUE  OF  AMERICA

In 1915, Hugo Gernsback chartered a new amateur organization affiliated with The Electrical Experimenter, its birth announced with great fanfare by The Radio League of America in the magazine's December, 1915 issue. As part of its efforts, the RLA began organizing "relays", in which Morse code messages were transmitted along chains of stations. A December 31, 1915 "rotary" message, originated by William H. Kirwan, operator of experimental station 9XE in Davenport, Iowa, was successfully distributed throughout much of the central United States. The RLA's next relay goal, scheduled for the Washington's Birthday holiday on February 22, 1916, was to distribute a message nationwide. And this first nationwide effort was a success -- starting in Iowa, the Washington's Birthday message was relayed from coast to coast, and eventually delivered to the President and 37 state governors, as reported by Kirwan in The Washington's Birthday Amateur Radio Relay in the May, 1916 The Electrical Experimenter.
If, in fact, communication is a fundamental and core aspect of Amateur Radio history, then how can emergency communications be that far removed?  Also, this organization (the RLA) appeared around the same time as the ARRL and apparently espoused many of the same goals and ideals of amateur radio as did the ARRL.

I continue to research a bit of the history of the ITU, which was founded in 1865, and the Berlin Conference of 1906 (to which the U.S. was a signatory) which inaugurated the first international wireless regulations.  The Berlin regulations (seen at http://earlyradiohistory.us/1906conv.htm) were mostly concerned with radiotelegraphy as a business and a means of distress-calling.  The important regulation in that agreement as it seems to apply to amateurs is simply, 'don't interfere with such services.'  Then more than now, that was probably easier said than done!

(By the way, in keeping with the OP's topic, I found that an interesting section of the Act regulating radio was this one, apparently covering all radio transmissions of the time:)
Quote
SECRECY  OF  MESSAGES.
 
         Nineteenth. No person or persons engaged in or having knowledge of the operation of any station or stations, shall divulge or publish the contents of any messages transmitted or received by such station, except to the person or persons to whom the same may be directed, or their authorized agent, or to another station employed to forward such message to its destination, unless legally required so to do by the court of competent jurisdiction or other competent authority. Any person guilty of divulging or publishing any message, except as herein provided, shall, on conviction thereof, be punishable by a fine of not more than two hundred and fifty dollars or imprisonment for a period of not exceeding three months, or both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
[/i]
« Last Edit: July 12, 2013, 12:06:33 PM by N3HFS » Logged
KB1SF
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« Reply #72 on: July 13, 2013, 03:14:13 PM »

If an individual country wishes to expand on this (as you say the FCC has done in the United States), I see no reason why this should be viewed as illegitimate.  

I wholeheartedly disagree.  

Let's go back to the basic ITU definition of our Service again, shall we?  

As I've noted before, that definition (in Article 1.56 of the ITU rules) simply states that ours is to be:

"A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest."  (my emphasis added)

Note the words "self-training", "intercommunication" and "technical investigation".  Also note that we are a supposed to be a radio service for persons interested in radio technique solely with a "personal aim" and without pecuniary interest.

Again, I ask, where in any of THAT does it even allow for us to become some adjunct "emergency communications" service?  Furthermore, how does any of that EMCOMM nonsense fit with us being interested in "radio technique" solely with a "personal aim"?  

Or, to put it another way, what's "personal" about a radio service which allows a bunch of of First Responder wannabees to enable communications among both public and "for profit" agencies (such as private hospitals) when there are other Radio Services specifically created for that purpose?

You are correct that, under the ITU rules, Administrations (in our case the FCC) are enjoined to write regulations to implement the ITU's wishes.  However, that does NOT give the FCC the authority to write regulations that fundamentally change the basic nature of our Service thereby turning it into something else that the ITU never intended it to be.

In my humble opinion, that's EXACTLY what the FCC did back when they added all that "emergency communications" eyewash that's still contained in Part 97-1(a).

And this fundamental change is probably also why the FCC and ARRL (et al) are now having such a hard time trying to cram EMCOMM activities (activities that, in many cases, are clearly being done for someone's "pecuniary interest" and have absolutely nothing to do with private persons exploring "radio technique") into our Service.

Any way you cut it, turning the Amateur Radio Service into the "First Responder Wannabe Radio Service" (as the FCC did with Part 97-1 and which the ARRL continues to try and do) absolutely flies in the face of both the spirit and the intent of the international definition of our Service.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF / VA3OB
kb1sf.blogspot.com
« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 03:17:39 PM by KB1SF » Logged
AA4PB
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« Reply #73 on: July 13, 2013, 03:40:34 PM »

One of the problems is that the spectrum we utilize belongs to the general public. Unless amateurs are providing some benefit to the general public we will soon find that spectrum being given to someone else who will provide benefit for the public. Due to the change in the nature of electronics these days hams no longer do much cutting edge "technical investigation". I think we will be hard pressed to justify use of all that spectrum for a relatively small number (compared to the U.S. population) of people to rag chew, work DX, and play with contests. With the advance of wireless connectivity for the general public, we are going to see a real grab for everything from 400 MHz through several GHz. I think the EMCOMM push by FCC and ARRL is a matter of providing justification for our continued use of spectrum. Without spectrum ham radio ceases to exist. Ham radio may be "only a hobby" but it utilizes valuable resources.

« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 03:44:03 PM by AA4PB » Logged
W9FIB
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« Reply #74 on: July 13, 2013, 04:32:10 PM »

Show me where in the ITU regulations that that definitively prohibits the FCC from making its interpretation as to what ham radio is. You can take portions of it and try to imply something that is not really there.

Now some may disagree with the direction Emcomm has taken, but that doesn't mean it is prohibited.

In Wisconsin it is illegal to drink and drive, ride, walk, be in public while intoxicated. But it is not illegal to drink. However a broad interpretation such as you apply would infer that because the law says most anything done impaired is illegal, then drinking is illegal. But it does not. And in my estimation, you are using a small piece of language to infer what you want it to say. Even though it does not support or prohibit Emcomm in general.

Now the merits of what is happening to Emcomm can be debated, just as encryption is being debated here. As a member of an ARES/RACES group, I don't agree with everything that's going on. But at the same time, I would never throw it all away because a few bad decisions were made. That is the whole purpose of the petitioning process in the FCC. That is where if you have a lucid viable disagreement with the regulations, it will have its day. That is if you take the time to make a petition instead of just arguing about it in a forum. Or if there is a petition in place, when it goes up for public comment, again that is the time to present a lucid viable argument for or against the petition.
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