[aprssig] Why Not "Gate in Vicinity"

Georg Lukas georg at op-co.de
Mon Dec 26 10:53:20 EST 2011

Hello Pete,

* Pete Loveall AE5PL Lists <hamlists at ametx.com> [2011-12-26 16:17]:
> 5000 requests; funny that there aren't 5000 APRSDroid clients on
> APRS-IS.  Makes me wonder if many of those are bogus callsign
> requests.

Of the currently 4998 requests only 4628 have been approved after
checking their validity. Some of the users stated in the comment that
they need the passcode for a different APRS-IS software. My own
monitoring of APRS-IS suggests that there were at least 4668 distinct
APRSdroid users, many of whom are not active any more.

> If you don't want to take responsibility for the distribution of your
> software, that is your choice but it directly affects the other hams
> using APRS-IS and gating to RF expecting some level of human
> intervention on the distribution of passcodes.

I am taking responsibility for my software, and I can not see why you
are thinking otherwise. The manual intervention expected by people is
just security theater. I am playing along, investing my time into it.
However, I am interested in creating a better, more secure alternative.
I would like to see a discussion focused on that, instead of demanding
people to un-know how APRS-IS passcode generation works.

> I agree that APRS-IS shouldn't be a big draw to the uninitiated but
> the easier you make it, the more likely the abuse.  All it takes is a
> few to mess it up for the thousands.

As I stated already, it is easy to abuse as it is now, take or give
smartphones or any other technology. The only ways to change that are
either by making APRS-IS a closed network only used to interconnect
APRS-RF nodes or by creating a secure authentication mechanism.

> The underlying premise is to provide RF-RF connectivity.  If  you
> throttle at the IGate, as pointed out earlier, you break the
> underlying premise.

I have to disagree on your conclusion. By throttling at the iGate, you
prevent flooding of the local radio medium due to misconfigured clients
somewhere else, be they RF or IS originated.

> Internet users are not "second class".  They are not amateur radio
> stations.  They are Internet users who, hopefully, hold an amateur
> radio license so they can communicate with other amateur radio
> operators on RF.  They can do that today.  There is nothing that says
> they should force IGate operators to transmit their beacons on demand.

Technically, there is no difference between forwarding beacon packets or
messages. The IGate operator is liable for both in the same way. There
is a benefit in forwarding beacons from IS to RF as well, i.e. when an
IS station provides its QRG so nearby amateurs using RF only can see
there is someone they could talk to. After all, APRS is about local
tactical information :-)

> As stated before, your APRSDroid users, if licensed hams, have every
> benefit that other Internet-connected APRS clients have.  They don't
> have a "right" to be beaconed to RF.

I have no intent to distinguish between users of APRSdroid and any other
APRS-IS client. My (biased, of course) opinion is that APRS as a whole
would benefit from rate-limited forwarding of any packet types from IS
to RF. You have a different opinion and I would like to hear your
arguments. In the end, the iGate operators have to decide how far they
want to go anyway.

> Apparently these concepts of "manual, multistep passcode distribution
> to reduce abuse" and "Internet clients are not amateur radio stations"
> are foreign concepts to you.

Manual passcode distribution will not prevent abuse, because the
passcode generation algorithm is public. You can close your eyes on it
and wait until somebody breaks APRS-IS or you can suggest a way to
improve the situation (or at least comment on my suggestion from the
email you replied to).

I am also well aware that internet clients are not amateur radio
stations. However, this line is intentionnally blurred by reverse-iGates
forwarding messages from IS to RF, in the hope that the originating
client is indeed operated by an amateur. The status quo is not changed
by allowing the forwarding of beacon packets as well. It can only be
changed by ensuring that all APRS-IS clients are operated by radio
amateurs, e.g. by introducing a new (secure!) authentication mechanism.

I am still interested in a result-oriented discussion.

73 de Georg, DO1GL
APRSdroid - Open Source APRS Client for Android ++ http://aprsdroid.org/m
     ++ https://market.android.com/details?id=org.aprsdroid.app ++
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