I Can Hear You Now – Forgetting Privacy on Amateur Bands

Is Anyone Listening?

Is Anyone Listening?

Several times recently I’ve spent a bit of time just listening to Amateur Radio nets and QSOs in progress, not wanting to budge into the conversations in progress. Busy with other tasks I enjoyed being at least a listener.

What has surprised me is the periodic forgetfulness that nothing is private when transmitted on the bands.

  • The minutia of your health just became public knowledge when you included conversation describing every detail….
  • That you are away for March to Arizona, but there is a front door key to your house under the front door mat, may as well been published in the newspaper as a public announcement…..
  • Just exactly how do you feel about that other Radio Group? – Oh you already transmitted your armchair quarterback’s take of their efforts…..
  • How you quickly worked some rare DX with your buddy’s callsign because you knew he was away on vacation during the short DXpedition, even though it is against the rules & ethics of DXing just became your new one-the-bands reputation…..
  • The scuttlebutt that so & so’s marriage is in trouble is no longer a private affair…..

So many items of private, semi-private information and things told to people in confidence are discussed with a forgetfulness towards the public nature of Amateur Radio.

Some years ago I managed to pick up a 32 mph in a 25 zone warning ticket – embarrassing in itself, but even more when friends at work knew about it because they heard it on the scanner.

Being scolded by a donut-eater in a metermaid’s jeep wasn’t life changing but that gentle nudge that little we do is private was.

This public nature of amateur transmissions is something we should keep in mind and take to heart.

Unintended Consequences can be reduced by thinking first.

Now if only I can remember to practice this when I key up that microphone!



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5 thoughts on “I Can Hear You Now – Forgetting Privacy on Amateur Bands

  1. Hermann Schumacher DF2DR says:

    The carelessness of the Facebook generation has reached ham radio …

    • k9zw says:

      Hello Herman DF2DR

      You are right that on-line social networks are prone to exactly this same problem.

      Would suggest what we hear on the air is an old problem that reappears in each media.



  2. Martin AA6E says:

    Another good argument for CW!

  3. When using the term “Facebook generation,” don’t forget that it now includes several generations, from middle-schoolers on up to grandparents… this isn’t something exclusive to Generation Y. I’m sure information overshare was around on amateur radio long, long before Facebook was around. Some people just don’t know how to shut up when on the air. Always has been that way, and always will.

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