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A worrying trend

8 October 2018

Hands up everyone who remembers HAM radio?

For as long as I can remember, radio HAMs have been a group that not only shared a passion for radio and electronics technology, but also acted as a backup line of communications in the case of civil disaster.

Many of the HAMs I've met over the years would put the average "qualified" engineer or technician to shame with the breadth and depth of their knowledge. Most of these amateur radio enthusiasts are (or were) really smart folks.

In fact, the regulators have acknowledged the "smartness" of these people and their attitude of responsibility by granting them special privileges not accorded to mere mortals.

The "average guy" can only use radio transmitting equipment that meets certain approved standards. In the USA, this means having an FCC certification to show that it has been tested and found to perform within the stringent parameters laid down by that government organisation.

The reason for this is pretty obvious. You don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry using radio equipment which spreads interference onto parts of the spectrum where it's not supposed to.

HAMs however, are exempt from this need to use FCC certified equipment -- because they're deemed to be both smart and responsible.

Well that has always been the case -- up until now.

I'd recommend that folk watch this video and contemplate the deeper implications.

Basically, the FCC in the USA is now saying that despite many decades of experience which has proven the trustworthiness of HAMs, they are no longer allowed to use a piece of equipment which isn't FCC approved.

What the?

Now there have been no proven instances of HAMs using this particular piece of equipment to interfere with other services or to in any way, break the trust that has been granted them by "the powers that be" -- so what's the problem?

What I believe we're seeing here is just a further example of regulatory over-reach, much the same as has been applied to RC models -- in fact the situation is a very close analog.

The HAM community is being deliberately restricted because a completely disparate group have caused *very* minor problems -- just as the RC model flying community is being restricted because of the very small number of issues caused by "drone" fliers.

This sure looks like bureaucrats and regulators just looking for excuses to clamp down on the freedoms of groups who've always been trustworthy and responsible -- because they can!

It is, to be blunt, a worrying trend towards fascism.

And where the USA goes, NZ will surely follow -- as we've seen with drones and RC models.

Am I just an elderly rebel looking for a cause... or should we recognise these ongoing erosions of our freedoms for what they are -- the actions of governments who fear the prospect of their people having access to the same powerful resources as them. What are they doing that they fear the scrutiny of people with radio receivers and/or drones?

Why are the innocent being punished for the sins of the guilty?

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