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I was reading about EchoLink and came across this rule under "Access Policies":

2. No "SWL" (listen-only) access is permitted. EchoLink is a two-way system by design, and there is no mechanism to validate listen-only stations.

I'm pretty sure that by "SWL" they mean unlicensed/public access, but I'm not entirely sure, as I've read in several forum threads that it isn't appreciated when you connect to an repeater/node and don't identify or say something. I suppose this is because the EchoLink system announces when a remote user connects through the system, but doesn't necessarily announce the call of the connected station.

So is there any reason why I shouldn't use EchoLink to "just listen"? Or is this just a misconception/misunderstanding on my part?

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The full access policy states (my emphasis):

No "SWL" (listen-only) access is permitted. EchoLink is a two-way system by design, and there is no mechanism to validate listen-only stations.

The last part is key. You can't use the echo link system without being a validated licensed amateur. You logistically can not listen to this system without also being allowed to talk on it. Contrast that with "traditional" short wave listeners. Anyone can buy a radio and listen without being licensed to talk on it and there is no way technologically that you can prevent them from listening.

My interpretation of the policy is

"We don't support a way for a non licensed station to listen only."

I don't think that they mean that you aren't allowed to connect and not talk. I hear stations connect to nodes regularly without saying anything.

Perhaps the policy would be clearer if it were written this way:

No "SWL" (listen-only) capability is supported. EchoLink is a two-way system by design, and there is no mechanism to validate listen-only stations.

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    $\begingroup$ Friend of mine connected and was told "Now that you've connected you need to say something".. So apparently it's an "unofficial" rule in many places. $\endgroup$ – Seth Apr 30 '14 at 18:26

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