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Privacy - Ham Callsigns Lookups on FCC Database? 66

catchy_handle asks: "In the US, all amateur radio (ham) call signs are public record. Anyone with a decent police scanner can listen to the local hams on the 2m and 70cm bands. Given an operator's call sign, one can search the FCC databases which will return the licensees street address, among other data. As a future ham, I found this thread on somewhat alarming. The majority of respondents stated that it's always been this way, that they have nothing to hide, and to stop being paranoid. [I disagree.] As a victim of ID theft, the less joe-crack-head knows about me the better. I'm pretty sure of the typical Slashdot reader's angle here, but my question is to the hams: Does this bother you? Or is it part of tradition and something a good operator should be proud of? Is it too late since these guys already know all?"

"I was surprised by the resistance to reconsider the status-quo, to adapt to the new reality of criminals with computers.

I suggested that the portals to the public databases be replaced with a challenge/response system such that if someone wanted my address, I'd get a notification from the QSL bureau, or the FCC that so-and-so was requesting access to my data. I could then decide to grant or deny that request. One person said that California's DMV works this way already (very cool). Another option: anyone is allowed to provide a PO Box to the FCC, instead of a street address, but that's an extra expense to many. "

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Privacy - Ham Callsigns Lookups on FCC Database?

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  • I typed in my zip code, found all the operators and their data within my zip.
  • by LordHunter317 ( 90225 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ttuksa]> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @09:34PM (#6981727)
    By FCC guidelines, the location of every licensed station in the US (this includes AM, FM, Ham, etc). must be available to the public.

    They don't have a choice. Primary place of operation must be listed to register a callsign.
    • Then what about those listed with a PO Box?
      • You can't get a station license for a P.O. box. The FCC insists on a geographical location.
        • But what about these? Are there different requirements for different license types?

          BURNS, JERRY P, KE6PTD (Technician)
          PO BOX 245554
          SACRAMENTO, CA 95824-5554
          Issue Date: Jan 05, 1995
          Expire Date: Jan 05, 2005
          Date of last Change: Jan 05, 1995

          Gasser, William M, AK6G (Extra)
          PO BOX 246143
          Sacramento, CA 95824
          Previous call sign: WA0KIU
          Previous license class: General
          Licensee ID: L00207752
          FRN: 0002142552
          Issue Date: Apr 04, 2002
          Expire Date: Apr 04, 2012
          Date of last Change: Apr 04, 2002 (License Issue

          • The FCC has the information, even if it isn't listed in the publicly available database. See FCC Form 605 [].
            • After looking at the current FCC Form 605, I found that you are correct, they do accept a P.O. Box for the mailing address.

              I do know that they used to insist on a geographic address for the station. Every license application and renewal that I have filed had that language. They must have dropped the requirement since the last time I filled out the paperwork.

              • Thanks for the information though. I don't know any HAM Operators, but the idea fascinates me (I actually ended up here because of the messed up link). I'll have to do some reading up now :)
          • The operator license can, in fact, have a P.O. box, and indeed must, in some cases (if the mailing address is a RR, for instance), but the station license (all part of the same total license, and required to go along with the operator license) shall not be issued without a geographic address. My old one was along the lines of "South side Henry County road 200 north, 1/3 mile E of intersection with 500 east, Henry County, Indiana", while my operator license (the one in the callbooks) was "RR4, Box 306, New
        • I am a HAM, and you are mistaken.

          My license has always been delivered to my Post Office Box.

          I do not have US Mail delivery at my location in a small town in California.

          It's not as uncommon as you may think.

          73 - KE6EBZ

          • The FCC used to ask for the geographic location of the station, if it wasn't obvious from the mailing address.

            For example, I used to have an APO mailing address. I had to provide the FCC a description of the location of the station, Room X in Building Y on Army Base Z.

            Then again, I got my amateur license when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. The FCC has eliminated or reformed many of its rules since then.

    • Okay - I'm going to mention some reasons why perhaps it's a good reason to have this information as public info. Ham radio tries to be "self regulating." The information of where people are located is used in that effort.

      This can be as simple as a polite note pointing out a problem with someone's signal quality (which would be a rules violation had the FCC heard it..) to peer pressure in the form of suggestion that the FCC will be informed if some particular bad behavior continues.

      Note that when it gets
  • I find the callsign database quite useful. (I go through Need to send out a QSL card? No problem! Just look up the guy's address and send it to him! Granted, I can see the potential problems, but I've been a ham for about 5 years and never had anything bad happen to me. The database has actually been up for a while (the QRZ one, anyway), at least as long as I've been a ham.
    • I'm with Tyrdium. I find the database to be invaluable! I help coordinate local SCCA Rallies, and due to the remote locations, we use a lot of hams for those events. The callsign database allows me to collect a list of callsigns & phone numbers from people interested in helping out, then I can just look up their address when it's time to mail them the rally information. Without the database, I'd have to collect the addresses myself from each person and keep them up-to-date on my own. Besides, there rea
  • by GigsVT ( 208848 )
    We run an FCC lookup on our site, Electronicschat []. Warning though, the data's out of date, I never programmed it to pull nightlies from the FCC ftp site.

    Basically, such openness is necessary. If you hear someone on the air that is breaking a rule (maybe inadvertantly), then you need to be able to locate where they are transmitting from. Having the FCC database helps.

    If you know where they are, you might try contacting them and asking them to stop using ham frequencies for commercial use. Sometimes the
  • Before the Web (Score:4, Informative)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @09:39PM (#6981759)
    Long before the Web, I recall looking up hams in those giant Callbooks.

  • I ask everyone that has nothing to hide please post your ssN, your creditcards with expiration date, your full mailing address with zip code, your phone number, your birthdate, your mother's maiden name, your religous and political affiliation and any other bits of personal info that might occur to you.
    • This is really not the time for that argument. This is really not a privacy issue.

      Being a ham radio operator is entirely optional, there's no way to argue that not being one deprives you of livlihood. If you want to make a "free speech" argument, then you better complain about the many other ham rules that prevent you from cursing on the air, and many other rules about the types of traffic that are acceptable. Those would be much more important to address if you view ham as some sort of outlet for free
    • OK...
      Name: William H. Gates, III
      Phone: (425) 882-8080
      Address: 1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052
      SSN: 539-60-5125
      Credit Cards: Your own. I'll have all of your money eventually anyway. Mooohooohooohahahahahaha....

      Oh, you said "with nothing to hide". Oh well. Back to counting then...
      Thirty-one-billion-three-hundred-seventy - million-five-hundred-thirty-five-thousand-nine-hun dred-twenty-three dollars...
      Thirty-one-billion-three-hundred-seven ty-million-five-hundred-thirty-five-thousand-nine- hundred-twe

  • It is certainly good to have some measure of privacy. But when you are broadcasting, it is important to know to whom it is that you are talking to.

    If I can't verify your identity, then the whole system falls apart and you are left with the mess that CB is. The more difficult you make getting the information, the more likely I'm going to just forget the whole deal, and then we all lose out.

    Take a look at Kuro5hin for a system that is completely open. Every user must have a login ID and every moderation
    • I really can't agree. I've been to Kuro a few times, and each time I'm startled by a system that seems to be filled with even MORE junk and trolling than Slashdot. I really don't see how people can see the site as being that much "cleaner".. but, that's just my own experience.
  • I got some bad news for you, sunshine - not only is Pink not well, but you are listed in a lot more public databases than you might think.

    Case in point: I got a spam at my work email, the title of which was: REFINANCE YOUR MORTGAGE ON my home mailing address.

    Now, let me explain that at no time is my work address directly linked to my home mailing address, which is a P.O. Box. However, my work email address is of the form firstname.lastname@companyname.example, and I recently bought a hous
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @09:56PM (#6981880) Homepage Journal

    How many slashdotters own a domain name (or 10)? My name address and phone number have been available in the Whois database since Jan 1997. Those who aren't such Internet newbs have had their info in Whois for better than a decade. So many of my friends have domain names that I've occasionally used Whois to look up their phone numbers. (I'm not sure I want to think about what that says about me or my friends).

    Is it a problem? I don't think so. Home/mailing addresses and phone numbers are pretty trivial to get for just about anyone. What's the harm in having yet another source?

    Then again, maybe this attitude will come back to haunt me...

    • My name address and phone number have been available in the Whois database since Jan 1997.

      You updated it? My address from April 1997 and jfax voice mail number is listed in thhe whois database.

    • "Is it a problem? I don't think so."

      It's not a problem for me. I've had a P.O. Box and an unlisted phone number all of my adult life (decades).

      The only people who know my real address is the electric company, and I expect it's just a matter of time before data-mining/coordination undoes *years* of hard work.

      (who never wanted it to become a 'problem')
    • My name's in whois with a slight misspelling. The address is a P.O. box. The phone number is a prepaid cellphone. The email address is tagged. I have received no spam, electronic or otherwise, that has used the information.
  • by notyou2 ( 202944 )
    If you're broadcasting, then your exact location can be determined WITHOUT A DATABASE! You're sending out an easily-triangulatable radio signal. So why is having an address in a searchable database so much more invasive?

    Certainly from a practical standpoint it makes harvesting easier... but on the "principle" of the thing is seems to me that any HAM operator is already publishing their location simply by broadcasting.
    • Uhm, people usually end up dead sooner or later. So is it really that much worse if we all got shot right now? That's the "principle" of this thing, we slowly die and end up dead.

      Heh. =P
    • Triangulation isn't always that easy. The FCC and NSA can do it fairly easily, they have monitoring stations with the right sort of antenna arrays.

      The FCC requires all radio stations to identify themselves with their callsign. This makes it much easier to track down sources of interference when combined with the license database.

      The license database encourages accountability, and I think it should be kept a public record.

  • Same As Australia (Score:2, Informative)

    by Book16 ( 608718 )
    We have had this system in use in Australia for a considerable time now, and there are regular publications such as the WIA Callbook which contain copies of most of the callsign info. I think that it is fair enough to publish that information, we are after all using the government's spectrum. It makes operators much more accountable for their actions and is handy when you are trying to figure out whos who and whats what on which frequency.
  • It doesn't bother me (Score:2, Informative)

    by finity ( 535067 )
    I have noticed this before, but it doesn't particularly bother me. By the way, I've been in the database for a few years now and I'm not in
    Actually, what does bother me is that my Dad has taken steps to not show up on and other similar pages, not show up in the phone book and such, and yet there is a whole lot of info you can find on him just typing his name into google because of the organizations he's in (and specifically their newsletters).
    There's not a whole lot that he
  • The regulations allow you to use a post office box as a primary point of contact. Remember, not everyone can get mail on a street address (look up Avalon California at the USPS website for an example), and these are point of contact addresses - as a PO box is a point of contact, you can use them.
  • F U D. Is your phone number listed? Are you registered to vote? Do you have credit cards? Guess what I can find out where you live as well. I could pay the $19.95 and get your 5 last known addresses and social security number. Protect yourself the best you can as having a history of being alive is hard to shake.
  • Fucking christ... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This has to be the most absurd thing I've ever heard of. Your name and address are a matter of public record if you have a driver's license, own property or are registered to vote.

    Grow the hell up.
  • i'm all over! (Score:2, Informative)

    if you google my name [], the first result is both my callsign and my dad's callsign showing our address, home phone number, etc. i mentioned it to my dad, and he didn't seem bothered by it. the only thing that worried him is whether it had our SSNs. it doesn't, so we're not worried.

    in fact, more recently, if you look through the CDBS [] form 349 entries for Radio Assist Ministry and Edgewater Broadcasting, you'll find my name (in a handlful of applications) and the name (and address) of my current employer t

  • I was a HAM radio operator a few years ago. Though my license has long expired, my information is still there. Does that scare me? Nope. Even if the info was up to date, it still wouldn't bother me. Why? The main reason is that they'd have to know my callsign to find it. If they find that, then yeah they'd have that info.

    The problem is that my info isn't all that hard to find. I can either live in fear that somebody will *gasp* find my address and ... uh.. do something that I can imagine, or I can
  • As far as I know, callsigns and their owners is a matter of public record. The FCC in the US, and similar agencies in other countries are part of the governments, and they all cooperate with each other through WARC meetings and the like. Here they decide on allocations of callsigns and spectrum, and they decide on licensing requirements and other legislation.

    Most of these rules promote the openness of this activity. There is no room for commercial activity with its attendant focus on economy and trade sec

    • I'm always surprised when I see a ham with a vanity plate on their vehicle with their call sign. It's pretty trivial to look that up and call them on their bad driving. But as far as I can remember, most hams I know are at least half decent drivers.

      As a ham, I'm not thrilled that my address is listed for all to see, but I must admit that it's kinda nice to be able to do a zip lookup and find others from my community who are into radio. If it were voluntary, I always wonder how many of us would contribut
  • Not only does it give your name and address, but it includes handy links to Yahoo Maps and Mapquest to show where you live.
  • Do you want to outlaw all phone books? That sounds exactly what this is for Ham radio operators. From the info listed, there doesn't seem to be any additional info that isn't listed in a phone book. If one pays enough, one can get that data "legally."
  • It's a simple as that. A Radio license is not a right, but a priviledge, and knowing who holds them (and might be abusing them) is in the public interest.
    • Mod parent to this one up! I have been licensed for 25+ years now and this was my first thought upon reading this article. I didn't notice if this guy was a ham or not, but off the cuff, I'd bet he (or the others that are whining about this) isn't.
  • =&state=&zip=&optype=a

    Go figure out how to get all the data yourself, it's not too hard.
  • It takes more than your address and birthday to commit a serious case of identity theft... But if it really concerns you, I would just get a PO box. It's what all the rest of us do, unless we just don't care. Afterall I give my mailing address to people all the time. It's on my business cards. So basicly A) you're paranoid and probably a little egotistical to think that anybody cares what your address is, B) if it really bothers you, get a PO box, C) if it really really bothers you, don't be a ham, D) if it
  • I didn't realize that call signs could be reused. I looked up the call sign of an old friend of my dad who's been dead for a number of years. The guy was Olaf Pearson and he had been involved in radio for so long that as a child he, literally, had been employed as a go-fer and floor sweeper in Marconi's lab.

    It just struck me as odd that his old 4 digit call sign now belongs to some guy in Georgia.
  • call sign lookup is rather useful when exchanging qsl cards - either here or abroad.
  • I suggested that the portals to the public databases be replaced with a challenge/response system such that if someone wanted my address, I'd get a notification from the QSL bureau, or the FCC that so-and-so was requesting access to my data.

    That's not a "challenge/response system". Challenge/response is when you try to authenticate yourself to a computer, the computer challenges you with a question, and you respond.

    You want to approve who gets to see your records. Sensible, perhaps, but completely diff
  • I'm a ham - I could care less.
  • I wrote the initial story, but somehow missed its publication and now no one will read this. Nonetheless I want to clarify a few points.

    Sorry about the broken links, I did preview and thought the corrections worked. As usual, many folks just don't read the story, or don't retain what they've read: I am not a ham yet, but have been around them my entire life and am aware of how things are.

    I have had mail stolen from my front door and used against me. Welcome to urban life in the 21st century. And that
    • See my other comment in this thread to this effect, and rent yourself a PO box at your friendly neighborhood post office.

      Another consideration - Joe Crackhead isn't necessarily going to know a ham radio callsign from a can of spam. Especially meth users - very few of them are really that clever, and tend more towards paranoia than simple deduction. Besides, a lot of mundanes will ask me "What's KE6ISF?" and actually try and pronounce it. These are people who are otherwise intelligent, and unless they'v

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.