D-Star illegal in France

Steve, GW7AAV, was quick off the mark to post about the announcement yesterday on the website of DR@F, the French association of amateur digital mode operators, that D-Star has been ruled illegal in France. The reasons for the ruling, if I understand correctly, are that D-Star permits a radio to be connected to the internet (which is apparently illegal in France) and that it breaches rules prohibiting encrypted communications on grounds of national security because parts of the patented proprietary AMBE codec are undisclosed.

The group is appealing for all European amateurs to sign a petition to the European Parliament against the ban. No doubt this will have as much of an effect as the two petitions to the British Parliament to get interference-causing internet-over-mains-wiring devices banned. Issues like this illustrate what a hopeless idea the European Union really is as it attempts to harmonize things between member states while countries (especially France, which started the EU but implemented only the directives that suited it) stick tenaciously to their own different rules and regulations when they want to.

I’m not sure if it is true that French amateurs are not permitted to connect radios to the internet, as if it were, Echolink nodes and APRS gateways would also not be permitted, and a quick check of some relevant websites show several of each with F callsigns currently operating. As for the argument that transmissions are encrypted, whilst the closed and proprietary nature of the codec does prevent someone from designing their own decoder, the chips (and indeed D-Star radios) are readily obtainable allowing anyone who wishes to do so to monitor communications.

I am not, as regular readers know, a fan of D-Star, but this looks to me a bit like the result someone who is also anti D-Star trying to abuse their position to get it made illegal in France. I hope our French comrades are successful in getting this ban lifted.

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

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