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Author Topic: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?  (Read 8282 times)

gil

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Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« on: June 29, 2013, 03:52:47 PM »
First, let me start by stating that encryption is currently illegal on the Ham bands and that I urge everyone not to break the law.

But what possible Ham could come from it? Bad guys are not going to start sending encrypted nefarious messages on the air. There are much easier ways to send private messages, using email or plain old snail mail. Not that bad guys respect FCC regulations anyway..

Some say that it would allow messages not appropriate to amateur radio to be sent. Not appropriate as in "offensive?" How can you be offended by something you can't decode?

Commercial encrypted messages? Who would do that? Using the phone is much easier for business. Encryption is the antithesis of advertisement. I don't think anyone would process credit cards on the air either, given the unreliable nature of radio communications.

I really can't think of any reason not to allow it. Can you?

Gil.

Geek

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2013, 04:34:30 PM »
This is a very narrow example of an extremely broad problem.  Encryption would allow privacy at a time when we have all sorts of political scandals that illustrate that privacy is difficult or impossible.

Via the IRS virtually all financial information is available to government.  Via Obamacare all medical information will be available to the government.  It is unclear what information the NSA is collecting.  I've lost count of how many times I have had background checks done.

If I had some good idea on how to restore some privacy, I doubt amateur radio is where I would start.

BTW: This is an example of a political topic of the type I was referring to in other threads.  This could easily spin into who knows what if there is someone on the forum who thinks that the government should be able to monitor everything to combat terrorism or something.  It doesn't sound controversial at the beginning, but who knows where it will go?
« Last Edit: June 29, 2013, 04:37:50 PM by Geek »

gil

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2013, 06:28:00 PM »
Quote
If I had some good idea on how to restore some privacy, I doubt amateur radio is where I would star

Well, that is not the objective I had in mind.. I only see it as practicing a skill that otherwise would get lost. Encryption is legal today (except on Ham bands!), but not using it might end in us losing one more right, in other areas as well.

Who today knows how to make and use a one-time pad?

So, my question really is, what would be the harm in allowing it?

Gil.

RadioRay

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2013, 07:13:54 PM »
For me - it boils down to asking the question of WHY I - as an allegedly FREE MAN should have to PLEAD with my servants (the government) to hold a private conversation?  The answer is simple: we're enslaved and Massa don' like his slaves a-wisperin.


On the various ham forums, I've heard some reasons for encryption, few actual reasons against and much silly name calling and examples of how privacy on the ham band would promote PORN! and TERRORISM!!  ha ha  Here is my response - with a bit of humor.

------

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 ..._ ._


Yes, now YOU TOO can talk to hot, wild ham radio operators.  Just set your dial to 7030 CW ! ($4.95 PER MINUTE)

 
AK4YH DE W1AW  BT  GE GIL. UR 579 HERE IN NEWINGTON.
WANNA PARTYYYY?  K





« Last Edit: June 29, 2013, 07:27:01 PM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

gil

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2013, 08:13:49 PM »
That was hillarious Ray!  ;D

Gil.

underhill

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2013, 11:55:54 PM »
My guess was that it had to do with using ham radio for emcomm, and encryption is pretty much required to meet HIPPA requirements.

Allan

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2013, 02:01:59 AM »
Somewhere along the line I read (but now I don't remember where) that the Feds have said Emcomm groups could meet HIPPA requirements.by sending patient data as a Pactor attachment.  But I believe that was the reason for the recent petition to allow encryption. 

Even though the encryption ban may be a relic of a time when ham radio might have been able to compete with commercial services, I doubt the FCC would allow it for general use.  They rely too much on hams being self-policing.  Heck, I remember a guy on one of the major ham sites jumping up and down and claiming that somebody using a local repeater to check with his wife about the need to stop at a store on his way home from work was a violation of ham use rules.  He claimed that was what CB was intended for, and such use had no place on the ham bands.  It was shortly after that I scratched another forum off my visitation list.

Wally

Frosty

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2013, 08:17:46 AM »
I really can't think of any reason not to allow it. Can you?

Don't see how encryption itself could infringe on anyone else's rights, who is harmed by the act?  If there's no victim, then it shouldn't be a crime imo. 

But, and I assume this is the section in question:

Quote
"RTTY and data emissions using unspecified digital codes must not be transmitted for the purpose of obscuring the meaning of any communication."

256-bit AES is not an unspecified code, it's a standard with well known specifications.   What if the message included an unencrypted header like "256-bit AES, KD0GDV's Christmas Card list"?  I know it breaks tradition, but does it really violate the law?

edit:  Guess the specified digital code types are listed, baudot, ascii, pactor, etc.  So, maybe it's a question of the definition of "meaning of any communication", and does it require that the contents of the message itself not be obscured?  "Here's my encrypted Christmas Card list", the meaning of the communication is clearly stated, but not the contents.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 09:25:50 AM by Frosty »

KK0G

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2013, 11:38:27 AM »
Well since no one has yet, I'll take the opposing view you no good dirty rotten sons of .................8) (There, in case anyone wondered what it's like on the "other" ham radio forum LOL)

I've been watching this debate for the last few weeks and honestly I haven't chosen a side yet, which by the way is pretty odd for me, I can see valid points on both sides.

Ray brings up good points; I don't see how encryption will lead to terrorism, business use, etc, that's a ridiculous notion. On the other hand I think using HIPPA as an arguing point is invalid. The intent of HIPPA is to protect the private medical info of patients in the day to day dealings of doctors, insurance companies, government agencies, etc, in a true bona fide emergency where lives are in danger, the priority of passing life saving traffic far exceeds HIPPA concerns. If the argument is made that the traffic may be a lower priority than life safety then I ask why ham radio is being used to send it in the first place. The other reason HIPPA is a poor reason for encryption falls right in line with example Ray pointed out about terrorism; to think that a criminal is going to intercept patients private info for nefarious reasons during an emergency is ridiculous. They would have to be already set up with essentially the same radios, antennas, TNC's that we have as hams and know what frequency, on what band, at what time the info would be transmitted, and don't forget they are affected by the emergency as well so chances are they will need back up power, supplies of food, water etc. If by some chance they over come all these obstacles and manage to find out that John Smith has a sprained ankle and a family history of heart disease, so what? Disclosure: My view point on this is probably biased by the fact I'm not a proponent of the whole ARES, ARRL, Red Cross, FEMA, EMCOMM type of set up that many promote.

Ham radio has an excellent track record of self policing, history shows us what happens to radio services that lack self policing (11 meters). Could there be unintended consequences that might negatively effect our ability to self police? I honestly don't know but the potential concerns me so I'm still holding a cautious view on encryption on our bands at this point. That said, I've always prided my self in using logic and reason as opposed to emotion to form my opinions, and my opinions have been changed in the past because of that. So, convince me.......... and GO!!! 8)
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

KK0G

KK0G

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2013, 03:25:45 PM »
Do I get the final word on this subject? It's OK, I won't cry if someone disagrees with me  8)
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

KK0G

KC9TNH

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2013, 04:58:50 PM »
Not to leave Chris hangin' in the breeze, the latest one I heard is fear that narcos will establish their own chunk of the bandwidth and  :o no one will know what they talk about. It must be because they diverted all their DF resources to seeing how to manage the flow of guns south of the border, or finding all those 1.5kW QRM'ers we know are out there. Oh, wait; wrong agency. Wait! Same agency? I'm confused.

The HIPAA thing should not be a major issue; non-amateur allocations to other emergency responders are what that's for. In a bonafide emergency a NON-licensed amateur can transmit if needed, so I don't understand why there wouldn't be exceptions for safety of life.  If not, re-write the existing statutes, something which is long overdue anyway.

LE violates privacy laws in the clear on VHF a zillion times daily; no most are NOT digitally-trunked and encrypted. There has been and is a case for those comms to remain in the clear also, in the public interest. Secure channels for tactical situations, sure. But general patrol traffic?  Doesn't seem to be a problem for me to learn someone's domestic problems, address, name, parties to the restraining order, and their personal phone numbers...  Isn't there a privacy concern there?

If push comes to shove a person will do what they gotta do. Beyond that,   :-X

Ray: What a pal! Quite the comely & talented lass you set Gil up with there.
And for Gil:
Who today knows how to make and use a one-time pad?
Of course. Right after I learned cursive and how to tie a Palomar knot.


Yes, really.
 8)


gil

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2013, 05:16:10 PM »
Quote
Of course. Right after I learned cursive and how to tie a Palomar knot.

Well, I learned in a book: "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson. Great novel by the way!

Gil.

KC9TNH

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2013, 05:49:44 PM »
Quote
Of course. Right after I learned cursive and how to tie a Palomar knot.

Well, I learned in a book: "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson. Great novel by the way!

Gil.
I'll have to snag that, thanks.  Winters are long, always looking for firewood for the brain.

Their efficient use is like CW, best kept polished by practice.  :D

Quietguy

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2013, 07:41:09 PM »
This is an interesting site about crypto, including OTPs:
http://users.telenet.be/d.rijmenants/index.htm

He has a downloadable OTP generator called "Numbers" that generates and formats printable pads that may be useful for practice.  You may or may not be comfortable using the output for important things, but it seems like a nice training tool.  His software just generates the OTP - you still have to do the encryption manually.

Wally

RadioRay

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2013, 09:11:43 PM »
That is a fun site.  Having been a classical cryptography kind-a-guy,  enjoyed reading through his various pages.  Frankly, the greatest things about pencil & paper OTP ...



... no backdoors, no phishing, no keyboard captures, no screen captures, no TEMPEST...


You get the point.

>de RadioRay ..._ ._
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

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Re: Should encryption be allowed on the Ham bands?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2013, 09:11:43 PM »