Thinking Ahead – Changing your habits for personal privacy and anonymity as an Amateur Radio Operator

I’m a Ham or am I? When to be noticed and when to be unnoticed, and much much more!

One should always remember that as a ham, you are already “on a list” in an official sense.  It is that “list” that records your callsign.

But there are times when it is useful to have more personal privacy and perhaps a bit of anonymity.

Physical Addresses:

If you look through listings (QRZ.com or FCC searches) you will find plenty of hams who use a either a work address or a Post Office Box address. If you do this out of concern for your privacy consider whether you should use the same addressing for purchases, as

In many areas a tax search on your name can locate your QTH, but again you see people using trusts or LLCs to sort of throw a drop-cloth over their QTH, often followed with using a Post Office Box address or Business Address for official records.

Unless you are willing for forgo your cellphone, drive a pre-OnStar era car, and go to some fairly involved efforts fully shielding your QTH’s location is not going to happen.

What you are targeting instead to make your location less searchable in casual search attempts.

And remember if you start communications from your actual QTH it won’t be an uncompromised “safehouse” anymore!  In most cases that really isn’t a big issue, as long as you remember that your QTH will be a known “Radio Active” place.

Personal Privacy:

You make your choices whether to put your callsign on your license plates, wear “ham radio hats & clothes” or to take a less obvious stance.

One one hand we are enjoined to promote our hobby, offer Elmering tutorship and encourage others, though we seldom pause to think that we lost part of our personal privacy the moment we share our callsign.

It is perhaps impossible to completely maintain personal privacy and be a licensed & active ham.

Anonymity:

This is all about You!

Some personalities end up being standouts and memorable whether intended or not.

People remember extremes and emotional responses.

If your vehicle bristles of antennas you become obvious.

So if you are super tall, you will struggle to maintain anonymity – you can do it but it is hard and requires extra efforts.  Squeaky or kettle-drum voice are ones that get noticed.

Attire can make a difference, as I once knew a salesman who called on me regularly  always wearing a goofy hat, as he was otherwise rather anonymous.  Decades later I remember his hats, but not his face or even his name.

In “Prepper Circles” they speak of become a “Gray Man” as the idea of becoming someone who isn’t seen as a standout externally despite having skills, capabilities and resources that would otherwise be noteworthy.  Usually the prepper-logic is being a Gray Man helps keep troubles from finding you.

All in all maintaining personal privacy and anonymity as an amateur radio operator is challenging and by definition can never be 100%.  But you do not have be totally revealed either!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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