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  #1  
Old 09-12-2016, 10:25 AM
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LettersFromFlyoverCountry LettersFromFlyoverCountry is offline
 
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Default APRS and privacy

I'm a pretty transparent and public person, not given to conspiracy theories or urges to stockpile food in a cabin somewhere.

That said, I'm starting to be a little concerned about whether some of the new APRS tracking sites constitute a bit of an invasion of privacy, and whether the original spirit of APRS as a personal tracking tool has been eclipsed.

I can certainly guarantee my privacy when flying. I simply have to reach over and push a toggle switch. The problem is then APRS doesn't become useful for what I originally wanted -- a way for family/loved ones to see where I am . I have to make a choice now about whether to provide data to people I want, at the risk of providing archived data to people or entities I may not want to have it to potentially use against me for reasons I can't anticipate.

I recognize radio frequencies are public, but I just don't know whether it's a good thing that the data is being collected and repurposed in a way not originally anticipated, with all the privacy concerns therein.

It's only a matter of time, it seems to me, that some site operator gets a warrant for data to be used against a pilot, just as cellphone location data has become a tool in some cases. What are the safeguards for this data that we give up when we flip that toggle switch? Or, is there an option on any of these sites that might allow a current flight to be tracked, and then the data not saved? That's a feature I think would give us more options.

Like I said, I'm not a tin-foil hat guy, but data is data, and too much data can be dangerous.
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Last edited by LettersFromFlyoverCountry : 09-12-2016 at 10:27 AM.
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  #2  
Old 09-12-2016, 10:44 AM
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Well Bob, I would only add that all of this data has been available on the APRS sites, such as APRS.fi for years. In the cases you mention, it just seems to have been presented differently.
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  #3  
Old 09-12-2016, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gnuse View Post
Well Bob, I would only add that all of this data has been available on the APRS sites, such as APRS.fi for years. In the cases you mention, it just seems to have been presented differently.
I agree, the APRS.FI site existing long before I decided to add a tracker to my airplane and has logged every flight I have made with the tracker turned on. ( I think they purge data over 2 years old). I have always known that my tracker was making me visible to anyone that cared.

From the FAQ on APRS.FI:

"Amateur radio transmissions are defined to be in the public domain (by FCC rules in the US, and by respective legislation in most other countries, and I suppose, by international regulations). Anyone can receive them, and retransmit, publish or store them as they wish. If you do not wish your position to be published on the Internet, the only guaranteed way is not to transmit it."

The sites that have been getting press lately are just doing what has been done for years only in a way that is easier to use for aircraft tracking.

Mode-S and Mode-S/ES xponders and operating UAT's are also capable of being tracked by almost anyone and there are plenty of sites out there doing the same thing with that technology. I have been up linking that type of data for a couple years now using a PI and a SDRadio.
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Last edited by Brantel : 09-12-2016 at 10:58 AM.
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  #4  
Old 09-12-2016, 11:10 AM
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  #5  
Old 09-12-2016, 12:12 PM
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Default there are a few steps you can take

APRS allows the use of a SSID that is not your amateur callsign. It can be anything that fits the data field. The only requirement is station ID every ten minutes and that can be in a remark field in the APRS packet that is not normally searched by these display programs. "Sadly," not all data packets from airplanes get through to be digi-peated and iGated, and it _could_ be that the packets containing your callsign are the ones that consistently get hammered by the QRM. That would be unfortunate, for then only the persons that you told about your alternate SSID would realize who it was making that particular track.

Just sayin'.
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  #6  
Old 09-12-2016, 12:57 PM
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While I certainly understand a pilot's concern for not wanting his/her whereabouts to be so readily accessible, I'm also thinking there may arise a time when he/she may need to prove where they were (or were not) at a particular time.

"The water flows both ways."
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  #7  
Old 09-12-2016, 01:11 PM
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LettersFromFlyoverCountry LettersFromFlyoverCountry is offline
 
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Right. of course I know the data has been on aprs.fi. What I'm saying is we often provide this data without ever asking how/whether it can be protected. Or how it can be used in the future.

In our more innocent days, this wasn't a big deal. But as we continue becoming this surveillance society -- no, really, I don't even own a roll of tin foil -- these are questions we need to ask about who owns our data and how can it be used.

That said, I hadn't thought about needing to prove I was actually somewhere, although it doesn't prove that I was the one in the airplane.

Keep in mind, it wasn't that long ago when your pilot's certificate number -- that, as was pointed out, is public information -- was your Social Security number. Someone eventually said, "hey, is this a good idea?"

But, yes, this information is public. That's not really the point. The point is if an authority comes looking for a nicely packaged set of data on a pilot and his/her whereabouts, are the people assembling it prepared to say "no"?

The government isn't collecting this data and logs. Private individuals are.

I'm just curious as to the extent they're willing to protect what happens to it? Or whether -- like other data -- it too becomes valuable "currency" that can be sold etc.

Whoops. Gotta go...there's a contrail up there. Gotta take cover.
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  #8  
Old 09-13-2016, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LettersFromFlyoverCountry View Post
The government isn't collecting this data and logs.
Are you sure about that? If the public is collecting it, it would not be unreasonable to assume the gov't is as well.

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?".

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