Posted by: GW7AAV | July 11, 2009

Amateur radio database objections

The following statement by the RSGB has appeared in the News section of the RSGB’s website:

The RSGB has written to Ofcom raising concern at the release, in full, of the detailed amateur radio database on their web site. This, Ofcom says, follows a number of requests from radio amateurs for the details to be released under the Freedom of Information Act. After consultation with the Information Commissioners office, the RSGB has learned that Ofcom could be in breach of the Data Protection Act in releasing these personal details, which include the name and address of each individual radio amateur in electronic form, on their website and hence to the wider community. The RSGB’s main concern is the security of the details, which can now be downloaded by any individual, radio amateur or not.

At first I thought ‘what is the fuss about?’ after all we have had the callbook and QRZ around for years, but I downloaded it from http://www.qsl.net/g3zhi/cb1.html and realised that before now we could not do a reverse look up. I now know who most of those antennas in the surrounding streets belong to but I still haven’t heard their owners on the air in over twenty years. My worry is that it will lead to more amateurs listed as details withheld and if you do that I will probably not work you unless I already know you. As far as I can see listing yourself as ‘details withheld’ is simply asking to have you call sign borrowed by pirates. I know why people do it but it always makes me wonder what they have to hide.

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Responses

  1. I haven’t bought a callbook in years – what’s the point when you have QRZ.com – but I seem to remember a callbook CD that was given away by Practical Wireless a few years ago that let you search for calls by town or postcode. So a reverse lookup is nothing new. You were right the first time – what’s all the fuss about? Perhaps it has more to do with the effect on RSGB Callbook sales that making this information freely available will have?

  2. The fuss is due to people not making sure the data is correctly protected inline with the DPA. There’s nothing in the data released that hasn’t been released before. Except this time it’s just a big XLS file for you to do with as you please. It’s trivial to make a snail mail list to target hams with junk mail and because any Tom, Dick and Harry can download it you have know idea who has the data. If you don’t think this is wrong then you’re an idiot Julian.

    Steve, I’m not in the callbook. Not because I have something to hide. The reason is none of your business though. That’s why!

  3. We are all entitled to our opinions but if no-one stands up and says this is wrong or this is the right way to do it then we are all as culpable as the next person. There is apparently a conflict between ‘Freedom of Information’ and ‘Data Protection’ and maybe this should be one for the courts to decide,not just in this case either. I am somewhat concerned at releasing a mobile phone book. Personally I have a public listed number but my mobile number is only given to good friends and family.

    Bully, you say you have nothing to hide and then contradict yourself by saying it is none of my business. Fair enough I can be downright contradictory too when I want to. I can often see both sides of the story but I will often appear to take the side that provokes the most reaction.

    What I find ludicrous is trying to hide your identity on amateur radio when as soon as you key the microphone you give yourself away. CW is a little better but you can still be DFed in minutes. In a similar way using an alias on the Internet is no protection what so ever. Google may be your friend but it can also be used as a powerful weapon. I have always found that the best place to hide is in full view. People never see what is directly under their nose.

  4. Thanks for the reply Steve. The crux of the matter is all down to personal choice. If I am offered a choice between being in the callbook or not then I get to choose. If I am happy to be listed that’s fine. If I decide not to be listed then too that’s fine because it’s my decision. I don’t have to justify it to anyone else. The choice to be in or out is up to the person. The fact I reveal I’m a ham by the antennas on my house or when I transmit is entirely separate. I know I’ll reveal much info when I transmit but it’s a decision I get to make.

    Anyone using the “nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” deserves to be bitch slapped hard. Why? Because they are being retarded. It’s nothing to do with having anything to hide but down to choice. When the day comes you can no longer be witheld in the callbook, I, like many others will simply list a mailing address in the callbook that is not my location and notify the RIS where the station actually is situated. That way I still control info about my location.

    It’s not because I have anything to hide but simply because given the choice to reveal or conceal my location I am choosing the option to conceal.


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