Push for digital leaves analog hole open for terrorists

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Push for digital leaves analog hole open for terrorists

Opinion – Chicago (IL) – An unpublished comment left today on the U.S. Coast Guard not responding to analog distress calls after Feb 1 article has got me thinking. With the huge push away from analog and toward digital, and existing federal authorities like the U.S. Coast Guard announcing they will no longer have equipment capable of monitoring previous analog frequencies – Well, hasn’t that left a gaping analog hole available for possible terrorist uses? They could communicate covertly on open frequencies just by doing so with analog equipment.

Analog transmit and receive equipment is relatively simple to construct (compared to digital). There are $12 kits available at Radio Shack which allow someone to build them in AM or FM. It requires only basic, fundamental components like resistors, capacitors, wire, breadboard, batteries, coils, etc., all of which are readily available in every city.

The reality here is that analog equipment is far easier to construct than digital equipment, especially for the amateur hobbyist. This ease of assembly might even make it more desirable for terrorist uses.

If everything switches over to digital, and then local, state and federal authorities are no longer monitoring analog signals because “digital is so much better,” then isn’t that an enormous opportunity for terrorists to seize, and a huge security risk for our nation?

Terrorists would no longer have to worry about their communications being intercepted as they could simply operate with analog equipment on old analog frequencies without fear of anyone in the U.S. Coast Guard, police departments, or any authority after the digital switch is made, ever hearing them.

While those signals might interfere with the digital broadcasts, the interference would be intermittent. Plus, digital transceivers have lots of built-in error correction. It may not even be noticed by anyone.

This is really making me wonder just how well thought out the whole analog to digital switch is. I wonder if we’re really ready for it.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.