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It's a public space meant for public communications.

Encryption isn't really banned. You can still speak in code. It's just that automated encryption fills airways with private noise.




> Encryption isn't really banned. You can still speak in code.

No, you can't. Other than one very narrow exception, you cannot use "codes or ciphers that hide the meaning of a message". (The exception is for transmitting control commands to a radio-controlled craft or space station.)


You can speak Navajo though or other language...? Some communities also use heavy jargon such that unless being part of it, it is hard to really understand what is going on.


Maybe in the US. Plenty of users in Canada speak in code, particularly in the north.


Seriously? There are restrictions against, say, sending a stream of packets with PGP encrypted payloads? Why? I mean, what could you do over amateur radio with encrypted comms that you couldn't do over the Internet?

And how do hams share information that should be private, like a bitcoin wallet's private key? How do you shell in to the admin interface of a remote tower? You just don't, over amateur radio?


The regulations in question all talk about not "obscuring the meaning of a message", so protocols that use authentication without encryption are typically considered acceptable.

Other than that: right, you just don't. Hams share information that should be private via other communication mechanisms; amateur radio is public.


That's correct. The bands are for public use, commercial use is forbidden. The only way to effectively enforce that is to prohibit encrypted communications. Using amateur radio bands to send sensitive data is a huge mistake, that's what something like the Internet would be much better suited for.


Note that encryption is banned, but digital signatures are not. In theory you could configure SSH to authenticate but not encrypt a connection.


Administering an expensive, high power piece of hardware in the clear, with a "perfect" authentication and authorisation scheme, would require balls of steel. Someone should try it, maybe write a book about it. For science.


For PGP encrypted, yup, it's not allowed. PGP plaintext signatures are presumably allowed as they do not obscuring the meaning of the communication. That was my thesis in 2004 and I believe it to still be true based on Part 97.


IIRC, if you provide the full keys required for decryption alongside the message, you can send encrypted messages.


I wrote an extensive piece on this as part of a presentation in 2004, called Authentication Without Encryption for Ham Radio - https://rietta.com/blog/2009/08/17/authentication-without-en....

Gave examples of using PGP cleartext signatures and Cram-MD5 (shudder) challenge-response for authentication without obscuring the meaning of the communication. At the time I thought that IPSEC with Authentication, but Encryption may be the best thing, but that has been slow to take off altogether.




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