[OZAPRS] APRS with Foundation license

Howard Small howard at small.com.au
Wed Oct 6 13:38:26 EST 2010

  Hi Richard and others

I have been watching the posts on this topic with great interest for 
reasons that will become clear a little further on.

I believe the determination from the WIA is fundamentally flawed as it 
applies the same principles to APRS as it does to D-Star. The issues 
associated with the use of the internet in connection to those modes are 
totally different as I shall try to explain.

There are many sources of information that are fed into APRS-IS 
including weather stations, amateur stations, maritime vessels to name a 
few. Each of these provides an identifier, position information and some 
related information (e.g. beacon/status test, current wx info, course 
and speed). The source of the information may be located anywhere in the 
World. Once that information is passed to APRS-IS it enters the public 
domain and may be used by anyone for any purpose. In a sense the 
originator has created a one to many relationship with a number of 
unknown end-users.

One potential user of the information is an iGate - an amateur station 
that sends and receives APRS packets. Of course the information may be 
used by many iGates or just one - the decision to use the information 
rests with the iGate licensee and the licensee alone has the power to 
decide what is transmitted from the iGate at any time. No one other than 
the licensee has any control whatsoever over the licensees station and 
no one other than the licensee can determine if any particular 
information should be transmitted by that iGate. Thus some iGates will 
transmit APRS packets providing weather warnings, some will transmit 
packets about ship locations, some will transmit packets of wx 
conditions in a geographical area, some will transmit packets about 
amateur stations in some select area, some (hopefully not in may area) 
will transmit all that data! Again, that is the decision of the iGate or 
amateur station licensee.

What that iGate is transmitting is information. In no sense does it 
differ from information passed by any other mode. For example, if a 
friend contacts me on my mobile and says there is a cyclone headed my 
way and I then broadcast that information on 2 metres it is in essence 
identical to an iGate broadcasting the same data as an APRS packet from 
info it received via APRS-IS. In both cases the fact that the source of 
the information is not a licensed amateur has absolutely no bearing on 
the legality of the transmissions.

Similarly if an iGate chooses to broadcast packets providing position 
information of a Thai amateur station (bearing in mind that Thailand and 
Australia do not have a reciprocal licensing agreement) the Thai amateur 
station has not committed a breach of the Australian regulations. 
Conversely, if a Thai iGate chooses to broadcast packets providing 
position information of an Australian amateur station, the Australian is 
not committing a breach of Thai regulations.

If broadcasting information in any of the examples is contrary to the 
Australian regulations then 90 percent of the practical functions of 
APRS are no longer viable and APRS is reduced to a tracking system for 
local amateurs.

The case of a foundation class licensee putting APRS data to APRS-IS by 
a direct internet connection does not differ from the situation for wx 
stations, etc. If any iGate chooses to broadcast data about the 
foundation class station or licensee (by means of a modified APRS packet 
- i.e. modified by the iGate from the original sent to APRS-IS which 
happens in every instance of a data packet being broadcast by anyone 
other than the originator) it is not the Foundation Class licensee who 
is making the transmission. As I pointed out earlier, that licensee has 
NO control over the decision by any one to use the data in any way they 
see fit.

However, this is not the case with Echolink/D-Star. Let me give an 
example for Echolink which I raised on an Echolink forum a few days 
back. Australia and Thailand do not have a reciprocal amateur license 
agreement and Thailand does not recognise CEPT. I am currently in 
Bangkok and have used my PC with Echolink to have a QSO via the 
Rockhampton repeater with an Australian ham - all quite legal. If I use 
Echolink to control a node located in Thailand then I am controlling 
that transmitter and broadcasting in Thailand without a license. While 
some bush lawyers may think that they can argue a case for it being 
legal I can assure you that, with the strict view Thai authorities have 
on the use of radio transmitters, I have no intention of putting it to 
the test.

As you can see this differs in an essential element from the APRS 
situation in that the originator of the data has direct control over its 
transmission and can effectively operate the transmitter at the target 
node regardless of the wishes of the node licensee. Precisely the same 
situation arises if I use my DV Dongle to transmit here via a D-Star 
repeater (although I am safe in that there is no D-Star activity here).

So, to summarise, I believe a Foundation Class licensee can put any 
information they like to APRS-IS via a direct internet connection. I 
believe that any iGate may transmit the information provided by that 
Foundation Class licensee without contravening in fact or in spirit any 
conditions of the license for the originator of the information or the 
broadcaster on RF of that information.

With regard to Echolink and D-Star there is a horrible sleeping dog that 
has the potential to inflict a nasty bite and it is this which is 
causing the NZ authorities to look carefully at certain internet 
connections. I do not see a solution to this apart from global amateur 
licensing (e.g. CEPT) and the refusal of Echolink/D-Star to allow nodes 
in countries not participating in such an arrangement to be part of the 
Echolink/D-Star system.

And next time you holiday to Thailand think carefully about the prospect 
of an extended stay in the Bangkok Hilton if you have been using 
Echolink to communicated via Thai 2 metre stations :) In reality it is 
highly unlikely but the consequences are so horrible that it is not 
worth the risk!!!

If anyone sees a flaw in my arguments/reasoning I look forward to 
hearing them. Just bear in mind that because the information on APRS-IS 
comes from a Foundation Class licensee does not make it any different to 
any information that comes from other sources not licensed to broadcast 
packets on 2 metres, etc.



On 10/5/2010 11:01 PM, Richard Hoskin wrote:
> Hi All,
> Ray alluded to this in an earlier post and after talking the WIA on 
> this subject both for APRS & D-Star I understand the following;
> The key words and definitions in this are;
> 1) Intent (general legal jargon)
> 2) Reasonable measures. (LCD para 11A (2) )
> First the question to be asked is what Reasonable measures (actions 
> that the operator can be reasonably be expected to take) has the IGate 
> operator taken to adhere to the LCD and prevent a non-authorized 
> transmission from his / her station.
> The answer is that he/she has implemented a Passcode system by means 
> of the IGate / APRS-IS software that will not allow any inadvertent 
> non-authorized transmission to emanate from their station.
> The Passcode is considered an international standard which is used 
> throughout the APRS-IS network to limit inadvertent (accidental) RF 
> access and as such should protect the IGate owner from regulation 
> breaches.
> The Second question is; What is the intent of the person generating 
> the non-authorized transmission?
> The answer; It could be argued that the if a non-authorized person 
> goes to the trouble of finding, generating then configuring a Passcode 
> into an APRS application then the Intent of that person is to generate 
> an non-authorized transmission and hence the onus is on that person, 
> not the IGate operator.
> It does not matter that the generator of the non-authorized 
> transmission is or is not aware of the regulations (sorry officer I 
> didn’t see the 60kmh sign), by their actions it was the Intent of that 
> person to generate a transmission on the APRS network (the network 
> consists of both APRS-IS and RF). Hence that person is accountable for 
> the non-authorized transmission.
> For what it’s worth the use of a Passcode could be interpreted that 
> the APRS network (both APRS-IS and RF) is a non-public transmission 
> network carried over a public communications network. IE a VPN or in 
> old packet terms a gateway tunnel. This would not however change the 
> Intent of the person generating the non-authorized transmission.
> Hope this is helpful.
> Cheers
> Richard
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* ozaprs-bounces at aprs.net.au [mailto:ozaprs-bounces at aprs.net.au] 
> *On Behalf Of *Ray Wells
> *Sent:* Tuesday, 5 October 2010 7:22 PM
> *To:* ozaprs at aprs.net.au
> *Subject:* Re: [OZAPRS] APRS with Foundation license
> Nor should we have to monitor every packet, Scott.
> Ray vk2tv
> On 05/10/10 19:17, Scott Evans wrote:
> As an I-gate sysop, there is only one way an F call will appear from 
> the Internet to RF is if they are using a valid call pass, Now for 
> those of us that use Linux the code for such is freely available and 
> is distributed with both APRSD & XASTIR (possibly others) so for 
> instance..
> callpass VK7FXXX
> Passcode for VK7FXXX is 4791
> Now there is nothing preventing any person Amateur or otherwise from 
> receiving APRS data, but this is not the issue, it the transmission 
> coming most likely from an iPhone/Android application or a PC. the F 
> call in this instance should ONLY enter a call pass of -1 (or left 
> blank if that is what the client prefers)
> There was much discussion a while back on the javAPRSSvr mailing list 
> (this is the software used by the CORE & T2 servers and also by some 
> I-Gate sysops, myself included) on developing a better way to 
> authenticate a users credentials, there was talk of using SSL certs 
> but the maintenance would be horrendous! not to mention breaking 
> compatibility with older APRS clients like UI-View etc... So this was 
> soon knocked on the head as being to time consuming to maintain and 
> implement, after all this is a hobby not on-line banking!
> So my take on this is that whilst the LCD states what is does for each 
> grade of licence, we are obliged to adhere to them, of course there 
> will be a minority that won't but you get that with any rules & regs!
> I for one will not be implementing any such "filtering" to catch out 
> any possible breach of license, I only have the APRS spec ALIAS's set 
> and that's for nogate/rfonly/nocall I certainly don't have the time to 
> sit and monitor every packet that is transmitted within range of my 
> I-Gate!
> -- 
> Scott Evans <scott at vk7hse.hobby-site.org 
> <mailto:scott at vk7hse.hobby-site.org>>
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