ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB015 (2013)

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ARLB015 Rules Change Sought to Permit Encryption of Sensitive
Emergency Communications

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ARRL Bulletin 15  ARLB015
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  June 25, 2013
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB015
ARLB015 Rules Change Sought to Permit Encryption of Sensitive
Emergency Communications

The FCC is inviting public comments on a proposal from a
Massachusetts ham to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to
permit the encryption of certain amateur communications during
emergency operations or related training exercises. On June 7 the
FCC accepted for filing a Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11699) from
Don Rolph, AB1PH, and put it on public notice. It will remain open
for comment until July 8. The petition for rulemaking can be found
online at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022424684.

Rolph, of E Walpole, petitioned the Commission in March to suggest
an additional exception to Part 97.113, which currently prohibits
"messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning."

"As such, encryption cannot be effectively supported by the Amateur
Service," Rolph told the FCC in his PRM, "and this restriction has
impacted the relationship of Amateur Radio volunteers and served
agencies and significantly limited the effectiveness of amateurs in
supporting emergency communications." He pointed out that Part 97
already relaxes its encryption prohibitions with respect to
satellite control link communications and model craft radio control.

Rolph cited rules already in place in Australia as a possible model
for amending the rules in the US. The Australian Amateur Radio rules
provide an exception for "intercommunications when participating in
emergency services operations or related training exercises." He
suggested modifying Part 97 "to capture the intent of the Australian
regulations" to relieve what he called "this impediment of Amateur
Radio support of emergency communications."

In his petition Rolph suggested excepting "intercommunications when
participating in emergency services operations or related training
exercises which may involve information covered by HIPAA or other
sensitive data, such as logistical information concerning medical
supplies, personnel movement, other relief supplies or any other
data designated by Federal authorities managing relief or training
efforts."

Commenters may use the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)
to comment on RM-11699 online at
http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/display?z=okdw6.
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