By using the Winlink servers and gateway stations (“the system”) and by creating and maintaining an account in the system, you agree with, understand, and hold the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc., its contributors, developers, administrators, and system operators harmless per the conditions set forth here. You also agree to the following conditions, policies, and operating guidelines.
The Winlink Common Message Servers (CMS) and the participating Winlink stations (RMS gateways) make available publicly accessible ("Public Domain") information and data from the National Weather Service, the U.S. Government and other third-party sources. You must use such information with care as it may be inaccurate or out-of-date. The Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc., its contributors, developers, administrators and system operators expressly disclaim responsibility for the content stored or transported by the system.
The information stored and transported by the system may be used freely by you as long as you operate in compliance with the rules governing Amateur Radio where you are located. Before using information obtained through the system, special attention should be given to the date and time of the data being displayed as well as the date and time of transport. Information passing through the system is not guaranteed to be accurate or current. The developers, administrators and system operators of the system will apply their best efforts to inspect and remove content prohibited by rules governing Amateur Radio. Should a message or data appear to be in violation of the these rules, administrators and system operators have the right to hold or destroy the prohibited data, content or message.
The system administrators and participating station sysops strive to make the Winlink service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, because individuals who provide Winlink radio email service are volunteers and that many aspects of system administration are not automated, the timely delivery of data or messages may not always be possible, and, therefore, is not guaranteed.
Special care, automated tools and design is provided by the developers and administrators to protect the system, you and your computers from spam, malware and viruses, but freedom from these is not guaranteed. The system provides you with options for spam control. You are ultimately responsible to properly use them.
You assume the entire risk related to your use of information or data received or sent over the system. This information or data is provided "as is", and the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc., its contributors, developers, administrators, and system operators disclaim any and all warranties, whether express or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc., its contributors, developers, administrators or operators be liable you or to any third-party for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages resulting from any use or misuse of the system, from data or information acquired from it, or for any failure of the system to perform in any way.
You understand and agree that email content sent and received over the system is not private. By most countries' amateur radio rules--to which each radio licensee must abide--content may not be encrypted with the intention to obscure it. Message content transported through the system over public or government radio frequencies, over the internet, or over private networks may be accessed by anyone with appropriate equipment and software. However, the policy and practice of Winlink administrators and system operators is to never disclose the content of messages sent over the system unless expressly permitted by the affected user, or requested by law enforcement, regulatory or defense agencies, health and safety agencies, or similar organizations in support of life- or property-threatening mitigation efforts, search and rescue, legal inquiries, or incident investigations. Personally identifying information is collected by user programs and system web applications only when users knowingly submit such information. You agree to allow publishing what you submit if it is also publicly available on government license databases or web sites. Winlink users, administrators, and system operators may use the information you submit for your safety or to improve your experience using the Winlink service. Personally identifying information will not be sold, traded or used for commercial gain. Aggregated demographic information and user behavior data, without personally identifying information, may be used for marketing, promotion, or fund-raising purposes.
Winlink System Policies and Operating Guidelines
Winlink (WL2K) is a global radio email service. Most gateway sysops and users are subject to amateur radio regulations. Winlink is also used for MARS and government and non-government agency communications on frequencies outside the amateur bands. Different regulations apply to those users. It is always the responsibility of all radio licensees to operate within the laws and rules that apply to their license and location. Winlink administrators and volunteer gateway station operators exercise the self-regulation customs common in amateur radio, and so, to assist Winlink participants to stay out of trouble, and to foster orderly operations, you agree to these guidelines and policies by maintaining an account and using the system. Operating within these guidelines will keep most operators within the laws that govern their radio license, and avoid administrative actions against your account.
Do Not Interfere
Listen first! Because a live human being (control operator) is always present at the initiating station, there is one common theme paramount to the successful operation of the system: simply listen on the frequency about to be used to determine if that frequency is occupied. If the frequency is occupied by any detectable signal, the proper action is to either wait until it is free before transmitting, or find another Radio Message Server (RMS or gateway station) whose frequencies are not busy. Not only is this a common courtesy to other operators, but it is a specific requirement of every country's rules regulating amateur radio licenses, worldwide.
There is no privacy over amateur radio. Anyone who is properly equipped can read messages handled by Winlink. Each gateway sysop routinely monitors messages passing through their station to ensure acceptable message content. Any message violating local rules is deleted and the sender advised. Gateway sysops are legally responsible for traffic flowing through their stations.
Third-party traffic is any message transmitted that is either from or to a non-licensee. In the Western Hemisphere (with a few exceptions) there is no restriction on third-party traffic being passed over amateur radio. Many countries outside of the Western Hemisphere also now permit third-party traffic over amateur radio. Messages between amateurs if they originate from or are delivered over Internet are not considered third-party traffic. Third-party traffic rules only deal with that portion of the message path which is transmitted over the radio spectrum.
For example: if a message originates from a non-amateur as an internet email in the U.K. and is delivered to a U.S. amateur over the radio from a gateway station in the US, no third-party rule is broken even though the U.K. does not allow third-party traffic over amateur channels. Likewise, a message originating from a U.S. amateur and passed by radio to a U.S. gateway is okay even if it is addressed to the Internet address of a non-amateur in the U.K.
Users and sysops must make themselves familiar with these third-party rules for the country in which they are operating as well as linking with if they are exchanging messages with non-amateurs. US gateway sysops should know that §97.219(c) provides protection for licensees operating as part of a message forwarding system. "...the control operators of forwarding stations that retransmit inadvertently communications that violate the rules in this Part are not accountable for the violative communications. They are, however, responsible for discontinuing such communications once they become aware of their presence."
Directly or indirectly enhancing one’s pecuniary interest using amateur radio is universally prohibited. Business traffic is any message, sent or received, that is related to an amateur’s business or an activity involved in making money, attempting to make money, or even to save from spending money for the amateur. Placing orders to trade stocks or receiving investing guidance are clear-cut examples of prohibited message content. Ordering or receiving via Winlink paid subscription-based weather guidance, custom forecasts, or any paid digital subscription product is another. On the other hand, in the US, the FCC has allowed that infrequently ordering physical items (ordering a pizza or repair parts that cannot be delivered digitally via radio) for personal use is not in violation of the rules so long as it is incidental to your activity as an amateur, and not done to enhance your pecuniary interest. Even though the Winlink user may use a Telnet connection or WebMail and never transfer prohibited content over the Amateur radio spectrum, it is the policy of Winlink administrators to abide by the Part 97 (US rules), and FCC interpretations of these rules, as it pertains to business message content transported by the system.
Winlink administrators consult with the FCC or other regulatory entity representatives for their interpretation of applicable rules whenever their application or intent is unclear. Administrators will communicate these interpretations to any amateur who may question an administrative warning or action. Administrators may block or remove messages from unsolicited mail sources, incoming messages from list servers or any regular or frequent “subscription-type" messages that might contain business related content. The best way to avoid unsolicited mail is to keep your Winlink email address private and to learn to properly use your account anti-spam whitelist. Do not instruct paid information services to deliver purchased or subscribed information products to your Winlink account when they can be delivered through other radio services off the amateur bands.
Commercial services must always be employed first if business content will be common. Sailmail, Inmarsat, or Iridium are recommended for maritime users, and there are others regionally available. Winlink connections for business content transfer via telnet, satellite services, or high-speed (WiFi) radio LAN are allowed for infrequent use.
All messages must be in plain language and use a publicly published format. Message attachments must be of file types that can be viewed with commonly available software such as .doc, .rtf, .jpg, .bmp, etc. The system will not accept as attachments executable files with extensions such as .exe, .com, .vbs, etc. This reduces the chance of an encrypted message but also is another protection against malware. Administrators may change the acceptable file types as experience dictates.
Obscene content is not allowed by the laws of most countries on amateur radio frequencies, and also not on the Winlink system. It will be deleted when discovered and the sender immediately locked out of the system whether the sender accesses the system via Internet or radio. The receiving gateway sysop usually determines if a message is obscene and usually warns the originator prior to taking any action. Warnings are not required, however.
If a user receives unwanted, illegal or improper messages they should advise the system administrator (address a message to ‘[email protected]) and the source of those messages can be locked out. If a user persists in violating the content rules, the system administrator or one of the gateway station operators will permanently lock the abuser out of the system.
Viruses & Malware
Every message offered to the system from any internet source is scanned for viruses and malware, and any detected threat is deleted before it can enter the system. The recipient is notified whenever an infection is detected and purged. Where possible the sender will be advised that his or her system is sending malware.
Callsign (license) Validation
Any licensee may self-register with the WL2K system by using a client program, connecting to any gateway via radio or over Telnet to a Winlink server. One of the WL2K gateway operators will verify the call against the appropriate country’s available amateur license database. This ensures the license is valid and that operating privileges are appropriate for the frequency band used. If this information is not found or available, the user will be asked to provide documentary evidence of their identity and that their license is valid. The user will be locked out of the system if it is not supplied within a specified time. Applicable "special temporary authority" agreements from CEPT, IARP or other reciprocal agreements must be sent with proof of license on demand by a system administrator in order to retain use of the system.
Winlink system use requires secure account login for web and radio users using client programs or terminal or web access. Passwords are secure and not sent over radio links. With this users may protect themselves from gaining unauthorized access to their account. This does not secure messages passed over the radio. It only authenticates that the radio link is established with a verified and licensed station within the Winlink system.