Friday, December 13, 2019

ARRL Calls on FCC to Dismiss NYU Petition on Encoded Messages

The ARRL says a petition for declaratory ruling about encoded messages on the ham bands should be dismissed. As we reported last month, New York University 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.
The ARRL response, according to the ARRL Letter, is that the requested ruling would make clear language vague and could actually weaken the current prohibition on "messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning." The League pointed out that Morse code transmissions are "effectively encoded" even though there is no intent to obscure the meaning of the message, and argues that adopting the proposed changes would hobble "vibrant experimentation with digital techniques."