ADSB, FlightAware, Privacy...

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by MuseChaser, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    I'm probably the last to this party, and I know there were some discussions earlier about some of this, so please forgive me for bringing this up again. My wife and I took a nice sight-seeing flight yesterday for a bit over an hour. I am ADSB-out/in equipped via a Stratus ESG, and used flight following during most of the flight.

    I'd read others concerns re privacy but never really gave it much thought. On a whim this morning, I opened the flightware.com website for the first time and punched in my n-number. Not only was yesterday's flight track, times, and altitudes throughout available for the world to see, and my flight history previously, but also my NAME, and my general address was only one click away. Freaked me out. I have nothing to hide... I am a rule follower to a fault, and if there's rules I don't like I write to people, vote, and try and get them changed (almost always unsuccessfully) rather than break them. That doesn't mean I want my day-to-day activities published to the world without my consent.

    Don't want to make this a debate as to whether or not this publication of private activities is good/bad, right/wrong, or any of that. Opinions vary, and that's fine. I've already filled out the LADD form on the FAA website, which I gather is one thing that will prevent release of that information to private companies, although there is no way to prevent the government from gathering and logging the flight data of private citizens.

    Is there anything else I can do to legally maintain my privacy while I fly with a Stratus ESG transponder? I need to have it because I do routinely fly in Charlie, and have occasions to enter the Mode C veil in the NY Bravo. Regulations state that if it's installed, in needs to be turned on. I programmed in my N number when I installed the Stratus. Can I legally remove that? Will my flights be logged if I do not use flight following? If so, that's a drag. Flight following is great, as are our local controllers. It'd be a shame if the use of ADSB and the boon to safety is also a motivation to NOT use flight following and not reap the benefit of the added safety from the controllers.

    Advice? Again... no need to respond with the "no need to worry if you have nothing to hide" points. I get that. I'm just a private person who lives in the country who likes to choose what to share of my life. That's all.
     
  2. idahoflier

    idahoflier Cleared for Takeoff

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    You can try and obfuscate as much as flightaware allows but my understanding is there are other sites that still show all data. Looking for a reference for you I see the FAA has started the privacy program: https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/equipadsb/privacy/ I may do that myself!

    Edit: It looks like we will need to wait a bit until "Third Party" providers have the service for light aircraft...
     
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  3. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    Your best option is to block your tail number. If you're super duper paranoid, you could register your airplane to an LLC and have it be a different address than where you live. If you're super super duper paranoid you could give up flying.
     
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  4. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for the reply. Is this something that would be valuable to do in addition to the LADD request I've already made? It seems like the two things overlap quite a bit, if not completely...

    https://ladd.faa.gov/

    Edit: found this on the FAA site... seems like it's a good idea to do both..

    "The LADD program does not impact the ADS-B broadcast data. The LADD program is designed to block aircraft data provided by the FAA data feed. However, the PIA program is intended to limit the extent to which an aircraft can be quickly and easily identified by inexpensive, commercially available receivers."
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2020
  5. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    No. Yes.
    Replace the Stratus with something like a TailBeacon that lets you run anonymous when squawking 1200.
     
  6. idahoflier

    idahoflier Cleared for Takeoff

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    That will help, but the real issue is that your assigned ICAO address is broadcasted with your ADS-B transmission and that address is in the public domain. Anyone with a receiver will then know it's you and I believe there are a few networks of people reporting ADS-B signals they receive. We really need an "anonymous" ICAO address for anonymity like above...
     
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  7. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    The "No. Yes." were the answers I expected.. thanks. Before equipping with the Stratus, I strongly considered the TailBeacon, but it's UAT only and I live near(ish) to Canada. At the time I was looking at ADSB options, flying into Canada looked like it would require 1090, so I went with the Stratus. That, and it's a transponder, too, and my old Narco AT-150 wasn't gonna last forever. Good point, though. Hindsight, and all...
     
  8. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    Okay.. I'm going through the PIA process now on the FAA website (... left out the "T" in the acronym... it goes between the "I" and the "A"...) and have successfully received a PAPI report. Part of the process requires getting a "third party flight ID provider," and there are four listed.. Flightaware, Fltplan, Arinc, and Foreflight. In order to get a third party flight ID, at least as much as I've been able to figure out digging through the Fltplan (I have an account there) and Flightaware (I don't there), you have to be a paid subscriber to the service to get one. Arinc looks like it's geared towards high end business folks, which ain't me, so I didn't dig there much, and I don't use Foreflight. Is there a way to get a free third party flight ID in order to complete the PI(T)A process? Seems strange to have to pay to prohibit the government from disseminating your personal information.

    And, re/ Groundpounder's post above... it's not paranoia, it's preference. I thought I made that clear.
     
  9. idahoflier

    idahoflier Cleared for Takeoff

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    You have reached the point where I mentioned "It looks like we will need to wait a bit until "Third Party" providers have the service for light aircraft..." It's disappointing that the FAA is more or less washing there hands of the issue at that point...
     
  10. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  11. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    The name included what it really was. “Surveillance”. They just forgot to tell you it meant everyone is allowed to. LOL.

    A tech security news podcast I listened to this morning covered it well in a single sentence...

    “Seeking privacy is now the path to receiving additional scrutiny.”
     
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  12. ARFlyer

    ARFlyer En-Route

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    You’re only hiding yourself from the public that only know how to use the various front page tracking websites. Anyone with enough tech knowledge and the cheap equipment can track you with the ADSB-Out Hex code or just use the ADSB Exchange Website. Not even AF1 can hide from that site.

    At the end of the day your aircraft movements are public knowledge with ADSB.

    My 172 is half hidden in the system only by the fact FlightAware only has a few UAT receivers scattered about.
     
  13. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    Just got off the phone with a pleasant, helpful representative at fltplan.com, one of the four listed third party flight ID providers. Availing oneself of that service costs $250/yr/plane, and he wasn't aware of any free third party flight ID providers. I only have one plane, so that's a good thing I guess, but still.. maintaining one's privacy shouldn't cost $250/yr. For now, I guess I'll be skipping the PI(T)A process. I've completed the LADD request. As soon as the FAA fulfills it, I'll run my N-number through flight aware again after a flight and see just what pops up.

    In the mean time, expecting nothing but remaining ever hopeful, I'll contact the AOPA and my local congress-critters and ask for their assistance in helping us little plane GA folks enjoy our planes the same way we all get to enjoy our cars (unless you have an EZPass or drive through the zillion locations where license plate readers are installed)... ;) I have spoken in person many times (and even accompanied him while he played saxophone) with our Senator Emeritus, John DeFrancisco, and have great respect for him. A good listener, and a man of principle. I wish he hadn't retired; he'd be the first one I'd call.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2020
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  14. PlasticCigar

    PlasticCigar Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I blocked my tail number when I bought the plane and use a Garmin Inreach so that the people I want to track me can track me. Blocking your tail number gets you 80% there. I never use my home address for anything, so it doesn’t show up on my registration. I’m sure anyone with a couple of hours of free time could find it but it’s kind of like locks protecting you from honest people...

    I think blocking your tail number should be sufficient and it won’t cost you any money. When you buy your next plane, register it to an LLC with a different address.
     
  15. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for the input. I don't know much about forming an LLC. From the little research I've done, at least in NY, it's an application with a fee and some sort of statement of purpose, then a certain amount of "public notice" publications, then sending in certifications of those publications. I can put up with going through those hoops. The real wet part of the blanket is the part where, if I'm correct, I'd have to actually file a separate tax return for my "LLC." I do my own taxes, and having to do two returns instead of just our one joint return every year is a real turnoff. Is that accurate? Any input on LLC formation, maintenance, and taxes for a person who is primarily retired, married, with only pension and some gig income who happens to enjoy flying an old cheap Cherokee, would be VERY welcome.
     
  16. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Privacy is dead.
     
  17. bkspero

    bkspero Line Up and Wait

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    I have my plane in an LLC in NJ (originally was planning to buy it with a partner and had already formed the LLC when the partnership fell through). Since the LLC has no income my accountant says it doesn't have any tax obligation beyond the annual filing fee I pay to the state. I do have another sole proprietor LLC for my part time consulting business, and my accountant includes it in my personal tax returns (I think it is schedule C in the federal return). It gets more complicated, I think, if you are not a sole proprietor, but don't know any details.
     
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  18. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Like someone wrote already, you’ll get some level of privacy doing a few of these things but you won’t get all the privacy you are looking for. The airplanes I’ve found that are hard to trace are those registered in a state like DE or have an attorney’s name and address on the registration. Keep in mind if you go thru all steps mentioned there will still be a registration history. Even FlightAware shows this on their website. Even if you change the tail number there is still a trail.
     
  19. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    Is your plane registered in your name with your home address?
     
  20. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I don't really see the big deal.
     
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  21. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    Yes, as are my other vehicles. If someone sees my license plate and calls the NYS DMV to get my registration information, name, and home address, they are told, "We can't give out that information unless you are law enforcement." Silly me expected the FAA would treat the registration of my air vehicle the same way, instead of automatically publishing my name, address, and all detailed flight activity for anyone with internet access to see and use. Not sure why a small private airplane, worth less than many cars on the road and putting far less people in danger, used far less frequently, is treated so differently than any other land-based vehicle.

    I knew that my registration information would be accessible once I started the registration process, and could live with that if that's what it took to experience the joy of owning an airplane. I didn't realize that the world would have access to every minute, feet of altitude, and precise location every time I left the ground. If I did, I may have spent a good bit more time and thought considering whether or not to equip for adsb-out, or how to if I still felt it necessary.
     
  22. Tusayan

    Tusayan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Human activity that can be detected and easily recorded will generally in the end be taxed. Other individuals watching me fly is not the issue, those with sufficient power to take from me based on whatever fashionable rationale they need to do it, is the problem.
     
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  23. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    I guess I'll eventually just have to learn to feel that way. I'm not sure I can. My upbringing followed by slighly more than four additional decades of adult life taught me to be fiercely independent and to rely on no one, yet to always be there for those that rely on me. As a conservative musician and teacher who, throughout my entire professional life, has been surrounded by respected colleagues, many of whom are good friends, who do not share and do not wish to hear my political opinioms, I've learned to keep a great many things to myself. As a musician who frequently gets home at 2 or 3am from a gig and then practices for a few hours, I've learned that it's kinder of me to live out of town without neighbors. Neighbors might not be as enamored of the large (yet kind and well-trained and socialized) German Shepherds we've shared our homes with over the years. I'm just a private person. That's all. Being tracked and "surveilled" without just cause or a warrant as a private American citizen just feels like extreme governmental overreach. Maybe it isn't, but we are all being surveilled to a much, MUCH greater degree than we were forty years ago. At what point does it become unreasonable? When do we say, as the people FOR whom the government exists, that we have identified "the line," and use our votes and our representatives to start, once again, showing those in power that we still do value and expect our right to privacy?

    Just the way I look at it. Maybe I'm the unreasonable one ...entirely possible. Don't want to turn this into a political discussion..just trying to explain why I'm interested in doing what I can to preserve privacy while flying. My views and attitudes are the by-product and result of my life experiences, and as such I can't expect others to have had the same experiences or harbor the same views,
     
  24. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Looking at your join date you weren't here when I went through this. My comment was definitely sarcasm. "Sold" the plane due to ADS-B.
     
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  25. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    So you knew your information would be readily available to anyone who cared to take 10-seconds out of their day to lookup your N-number and you still choose to register in your own name instead of creating an entity such as 'None Of Your Effing Business Inc' to register the plane under. And I get it, seeing your N-number somewhere and being able to find your name and address is one thing while seeing your N-number somewhere and being able to see your entire flight history is something different.

    The point is if you were a person who is so concerned with your own privacy, there are steps you could have taken to help conceal your identity. But you didn't do that and now you seem to be upset with people other than yourself because of it.
     
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  26. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    It died on October 26th, 2001.
     
  27. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Or just upset that privacy isn’t the default.

    Opt-out is stupid. Opt-in is how things like that should work.

    But completely impossible with a crap ass over-the-air data networking technology that doesn’t even give lip service to encryption. Let alone user authentication.

    My airplane was in Texas one day when it was parked in the hanger.

    The tech of ADS-B is total BS trash engineering not worthy of a first year programming student in a bad computer science curriculum at a bad school.
     
  28. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    Not that anyone cares what I think, but....

    I don't care about ADS-B tracking. I've never had any expectations of privacy while flying my airplane, and if it was a concern, there are ways to mitigate it. It is also known, and not hidden like some other surveillance methods, like the gov't spying on me via my smartphone without a warrant. There is no way to stop that, aside from not having a cell phone. That is impossible these days if you have a job. Same thing with license plate scanners, they are a violation of the 14th amendment no matter how you look at it, and you can't stop it unless you want to stop driving.
     
  29. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    If you want to have a discussion with pilots about how they think things should work vs how they actually work you'd better bring a tent and a sleeping bag because you're gonna be here a while.
     
  30. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    I'm looking for something helpful in your reply, but can't seem to find anything. Perhaps it's there. It seems unreasonable to me for a private citizen to have to form a "company" or LLC in order to use a pleasure vehicle without broadcasting personal identification and detailed usage information to the world. Why should one have to form a business to engage in personal recreation and transportation? I don't have an LLC for my Toyota...

    If your point is I should have known better, or it's my own fault for not taking those steps, I guess that's accurate. I think I've already pretty much admitted to that by previously stating that if I had done more research prior to equipping, I may have gone a different route.
     
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  31. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    You don't have to. Its not required. You may choose to if you have a personal desire to prevent your identity from being associated with your tail number. That's the system as it exists. If you want to play the game, your choices are play by the rules, fight to get the rules changed if you don't like them, or don't play.

    If you want to complain about it for the sake of complaining about it, that's your right I suppose. But if that's the case, then I'll go ahead and paraphrase you. I'm looking for something helpful in your post but can't seem to find anything.
     
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  32. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    I do want to "play the game," meaning fly my private airplane. I am playing by the rules. I have applied for the LADD provision. I've learned of the PIA options through this thread. I'm in the process of contacting various entities to request changes to the rules. All of that has already been addressed. Why the lecture?

    I don't see how my comments can be construed as complaining "for the sake of complaining." If that was what it was, I'd be whining and doing nothing about it. Instead, I've identified what I see as a problem, called attention to it, asked for assistance and advice in overcoming the problem, taken steps towards doing so, and received some good input and advice from others. If others feel, as i do, that the default should be that private information not be shared publicly unless one opts IN, then the more of us who contact the AOPA and our representatives, the better. Those who don't feel that way are free to continue on sharing their data as they wish... and would be free to do so no matter what.

    I started this thread to get some help and advice, and also so that others who might wish to take similar steps to maintain or secure a bit more privacy can benefit, too. Hardly complaining for complaining's sake. View it as you wish.. not much I can do about your perception of my motivations.
     
  33. aftCG

    aftCG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    "SBY"
    Works really well outside the mode C veil
     
  34. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    But not allowed, if I understand things correctly. If you have equipment installed, you must squawk VFR when in the air unless assigned a discrete code by ATC. Am I wrong?
     
  35. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    91.225 (f) Each person operating an aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out must operate this equipment in the transmit mode at all times unless— [stuff that don't happen]

    91.227 (d) Each aircraft must broadcast the following information,
    (11) An indication of the aircraft assigned ICAO 24-bit address, except when the pilot has not filed a flight plan, has not requested ATC services, and is using a TSO-C154c self-assigned temporary 24-bit address; [Anonymous mode when squawking 1200 if your ads-b out supports it]
     
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  36. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    Fair enough. Apologies for misunderstanding your intent.

    On a somewhat related note I just had an experience that reminded me of this discussion. We have two large hospital networks in our area. My doctor and the group he's a member of moved their affiliation from one of those networks to the other a few months back. I just scheduled my first appointment with him since moving to the new network. The new network, like the old one, has an online portal where you can see your test results and message your doctor, schedule appointments etc so I went ahead an setup an account on it.

    During the setup, the first screen asked me my name, address, DOB and last 4 of my SSN. Then I had to answer about half a dozen questions to verify my identity. The first question named one of my brothers and asked me to identify which state he owns a house in. The next question asked me to identify the color of a car I owned in 1988. The next question named another brother and asked me to identify his age range. Another question gave the street address of a property I used to own and asked me to identify which city its in. They knew all that from a name, address, DOB and last 4 of a SSN.

    I gave up any hope of keeping my information completely private long ago. If someone wants that info bad enough, they'll be able to find it.
     
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  37. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Economic rents must be collected.

    It died long before that. That's just when the saying "if you have nothing to hide....." Became popular.

    It's an international government standard and therefore a compromise.

    What did you expect?

    Now if states would just open their license plate data to everyone online, we'd be able to track that to (just like the law enforcement folks do).
     
  38. Ravioli

    Ravioli Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    I think @MuseChaser should review the posts of @james311 (who is now perma-banned). He had more to say about ADS-B and Privacy than anyone (past and present)

    Fortunately I've got Tail Beacon so my 1200 squawks anonymous mode (random identifier) and my actual tail number only goes when on a discrete code. That option is available NOT on all ADS-B out devices.

    On the other hand, I'm usually on flight following anyway, so I'm generally trackable.

    Edit: NOT on all devices
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
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  39. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    I started to answer that, but couldn’t get past the fact that data networking ineptitude at an international scale, just means it’s an even dumber number of engineers than I thought. :)
     
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  40. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    MuseChaser
    Thanks for the post. I think I recall reading some of James331's posts re/ the privacy issues behind ADSB-out, but at the time I hadn't yet installed (I think) and, due to my own personal dislike of his posting demeanor, probably made the mistake of discounting his opinions. In hindsight, he and I may have had much more to agree upon than I thought. I guess I should have paid closer attention. One of those (many) cases of "I didn't know enough at the time to realize what I didn't know."

    Are you sure about anonymous mode, i.e., no tail number when squawking 1200, being available on all ADSB-out equipment? I thought that option was only available on UAT, and not on 1090ES. I'd love to be wrong about that.