Tuesday, November 12, 2019

NYU Asks FCC to Clarify Rules on Encryption by Hams

New York University has asked the FCC to issue a declaratory ruling clarifying that its rule prohibiting hams from transmitting "messages in codes or ciphers intended to obscure the meaning thereof" also applies to "effectively encrypted or encoded messages" that "cannot be readily decoded over the air for true meaning." 

The focus of the petition is Winlink, along with PACTOR and similar modes, in which transmissions can only be decoded by a single linked station. NYU says this makes it difficult for amateurs to self-police. According to the ARRL, NYU says its interest is borne from its long-standing commitment to fostering innovation in science, technology, engineering and math, and that "transparency and openness in amateur radio" are important elements of that goal.
SCS, the company that developed PACTOR, recently unveiled new software, called PMON, which it says can be used to monitor PACTOR-1/-2/-3 transmissions without a specialized modem, but the NYU petition says it isn't clear whether the software can successfully decode transmissions in which elements may be missing due to fading. Comments are due by December 2, with reply comments due by December 17.