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Amateur Radio Interference

Amateur Radio Interference (No more gentlemen)

Amateur Radio has always been the domain of those highly moral gentlemen wishing to pursue their hobby whilst showing due deference and consideration for others.

Sadly things are changing! We seem to have less gentle folk around these days. Is it just a sign of the times that we now experience undignified and uncommonly bad manners on our sacred bands? What happens when the Amateur Radio code of conduct falls by the wayside. What happens when stations are deliberately interfered with and the enjoyment of those dedicated to the best interests of Amateur Radio diminished when interference turns to abuse, harassment and that to serious affront?
Do we sit on our hands and say and do nothing while a few rotten apples ruin our precious hobby? Or do we take our responsibility to our brothers and sisters seriously by taking affirmative action that protects the best interests of all while upholding the code of conduct.

If you think the latter I would have to agree. 

While there is a strong opinion that to ignore the interference is the way to go I would ask you what if the interference continues to the point that your hobby and the joy it brings is stolen?

So what can we do legally, lawfully do? The answer is not much at all. If you call the RIs they will ask that you take the initiative, record the interference. But that does not always work as there are times when it is unidentified and no discernable ID is possible.

Why do we pay our license fees to use a band where we are experiencing interference, abuse, harassment and serious affront.

What then?

What about self policing?

Well, vigilante's are out so what about a more pragmatic approach using all the skills of the amateur and our resourcefulness?
After long and careful consideration and much discussion with those experts in the field of how to handle the problem (including RIs) there may be a way thru the mine field of obstacles on how to tackle the problem.

The following suggestion is an initiative on "how to" deal with interference.

Step 1.

Radio hobbyists have many unique skills that we treat as everyday fun things to do.
One such skill is the art of "Radio Direction Finding" or RDF for short.
In my neck of the woods there are many skilled in the art of RDF who are able to turn a beam antenna toward a signal and approximate the location of that signal.
When triangulated with a second or third RDF station the approximate location of a signal can be determined.
Using signal strength the signal can be further narrowed to a location possibly to the exact location of the originating signal.
Having done this, there arises a legality that must be carefully handled as carefully as threading a needle.
At no time must any reference be made of any names or possible call signs of any person or persons as this could be considered as a breech of the laws of defamation.
Rather the location should be noted and all other reference suppressed.
Just say someone broke into your house while you were out and found your equipment, turned it on and commenced to cause interference up and down the bands.
You would not wish to have your good name and call sign bandied around as causing interference when the matter was clearly out of all reasonable control.

So having located the source of the interference what next?

My suggestion is to approach your local club with the information.
If you do not have a club organize an informal meeting and discuss the following.
Perhaps you could organize a local club and establish an Amateur Radio community get together.
However I suspect that there is a club in your local community already.
If this can then be confirmed as being accurate, a letter outlining the detail of the date, time and channel this took place on should be provided to the station licensee and asking them to respond in a reasonable period of time, say 14 days.
This immediately places them "ON NOTICE" that you know what is going on.
To frequently these people hide or at least attempt to hide behind a wall of obscurity.
The letter should ask the station licensee if there was a problem and if there was a reasonable logical explanation why the interference took place.
As I said already there may have been a break in.
This allows the innocent a chance to clear their good name and to avoid any possible allegations of defamation.

If however the station licensee is that sort of person we do not wish to have in our ranks then they will 9 out of 10 times I am reliably informed will shoot themselves in the foot and admit the episode and tell the writer to get lost in no uncertain terms.

So there you have a record of the incident and a response from the station licensee responsible for the interference.

But what if it happens again?

Step 2.

If as in Step 1 the interference can be tracked down and identified to a certain location without any doubt, a second letter should be sent from the local Amateur Radio community asking the station to "show cause" why the matter should not be passed to the ACA for their action.
Again allowing 24 days for the response.

Once the response is received all documents should be passed to the local RIs for their archive and any action they choose.

This suggested method takes into account the self policing policy of the Amateur Radio code while dealing directly with the problem of interference in a pro active manner while alleviating the onerous chore of tracking the problem down by the RIs.
A task they often as not little enjoy.
In fact the RIs will often side step the Amateur Radio operators pleas for assistance as the Amateur has multiple bands and modes while the business man down the road experiencing interference from say a pager has one channel and is loosing money hand over fist due to an errant pager causing interference to his work channel.
Priority is foremost in the minds of RIs and sad to say Amateur Radio hobbyists fall at to the bottom of the list.

So there is a definitive method of identifying the problem and dealing with the matter with the vigilante element etc.

So what if it happens again?

Step 3.

Approach your local club and call for the matter to be put on the agenda at the next "General Meeting".
At this meeting the matter should be given full and complete coverage of all the facts so that everyone has as far as possible a full and complete understanding and knowledge of the facts.
As those who act in a manner detrimental to Amateur Radio often hide in the shadowy world of secrecy, this will expose them to all.
The local community can decide how they wish to handle the problem of the rogue element within their ranks.
They may simply choose to ignore them.
To shun all contact with the station until it can be established that the person is suitably penitent.
Or they may choose to take stronger action such as writing to their local member asking for the matter to be referred to the Minister with a recommendation of cancelling the licensee's privilege.
Whatever, but they, the local community should decide.

These suggestions above I feel will plug the hole that exists between the toothless tiger of self policing and direct action by the ACA.
It brings the matter into the open in a positive and lawful manner that will not see any person or club labelled as defamatory and most of all lets the one causing interference know that you know who they are and what they are doing and they have no longer any cloak for their actions.


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