How much identification for awards is enough?

Logbook of The World

In an announcement, CQ Magazine is now stating they are accepting eQSL cards for their award program. That’s their choice.

What is interesting is that the announcement has stirred up the whole issue of what identification is needed to prove you are an authentic ham radio operator. And you are who you say you are.

The ARRL sponsored Logbook of The World program (and I participate in this program) requires US hams to get their access via the postal service. US hams submit their request with their call sign and the ARRL sends the confirmations needed to the FCC listed mailing address. If you are not current with the FCC database, your in trouble with the FCC and your confirmation won’t get sent to the right place.

The ARRL, for US hams, considers this proof that you are who you say you are.

For hams outside the US, both a copy of your amateur radio license and another form of government issued identification (passport, drivers license) must be mailed via the postal service to the ARRL.

While hams in the US may not think this is a big deal, sending two government issued documents through the postal service is, at best, risky. Personally, I’d be unwilling to send two valuable forms of government documents through the postal service in Russia, or China — or the US.

Identity theft is a rampant problem. The best way to prevent identity theft is to not offer government issued documents out to the world. Even though the ARRL says that it will destroy the documents once they issue the LoTW confirmations (and I believe them), the first rule is to not put temptation in front of someone in the first place. Or any place along the long postal service trail that these documents would travel — and opened.

I have no issues with the requirements for documenting a DXpedition — it is a choice the operators made to go there and they need to show they landed and operated so it is valid for the award (and most DXpeditions simply require a copy of the operating license — not proof that you are who you say you are).

But for simply submitting a log to an electronic database that will confirm contacts for a paper award?

What is personally interesting to me is how focused hams are on fraud in the hobby. That people will cheat to get a paper certificate they can hang on the wall. There is more regulation in ham radio for awards than there is for investment firms on Wall Street.

We’re a rules-based community and we’re always examining everything in relation to the rules and whether the rules can be violated or are being violated or you can cheat because the rules don’t cover every aspect of every thing we’re looking at.

I’m not saying the ARRL is incorrect in what they require for Logbook of The World. It’s their program and it is used for their convenience for their awards. But if participation is an issue, they should look at their requirements for submitting logs and see if government issued identification to prove you are who you are is limiting non-US hams from participating at a rate that would make the whole program better.

How much identification is enough for submitting logs to Logbook of The World?

[…] been concerned for a while that our hobby has become far more rules-based and exclusionary than is good for our […]

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