Use for illegal purposes?

Hi… I’m new to this forum, and GoTenna in general. In reading some posts here, I was curious about something. Here in NYC, we have an ongoing concern about terrorism and other forms of crime in general. It’s fairly common knowledge that if Law Enforcement agencies are actively investigating someone, they can apply for various search warrants- For homes, cars, etc. They can also get a warrant to look at phone records, for example. I know that there are cheap “burner” phones available for short-term use in avoiding surveillance, but is anyone concerned that in creating a GTM-based network, we MAY be providing a way for a group of terrorists (or drug dealers, for that matter), a way to “hide in plain sight”?

Nope, There are many many other ways they can communicate. And in either event the text messages are still on their phone. so to me it’s no different than a regular phone.


I suppose they would have alternative means for communication. LE would still know WHO someone texted, but maybe not the message. A mesh network is anonymous on both ends of a conversation.

Radio is also anonymous, In the case of the goTenna the person would have evidence on them since they would need to have the goTenna with them. So the police would know to look for the goTenna app (they should know). It could be used in illegal ways but at this point I think the network is too small to really help them. There are tons of computer encryption programs that they could use to send emails which would be much more effective to them than goTennas are right now.


I suppose you’re right… Maybe I’ve watched too much “Law & Order” and read too much Tom Clancy over the years! Still, I’m looking forward to trying them out. I ordered them yesterday!


If they are smart they will just use the “Signal” app. Way easier then Gotenna.

That said they can build their own network.

Or use Stenography

Or MMORPG video games for hidden messages.

Or a popular favorite the dark web.

Point is there are lots of tools out there and they will build there own if needed.


Just finished watching Law and Order: SVU. You can’t watch too much Law and Order.


Nice find! Great information.

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It would be incorrect to say that Gotenna Mesh has few to no benefits to the criminal element. It actually has MANY compared to other forms of communication:

  1. There is no external record of messages like there is with, say, SMS. Yes, messages are stored on your phone. But they are easy enough to delete. And if worse came to worse, a phone could be crushed or thrown in a lake to prevent any possible recovery of deleted data.

  2. Messages are encrypted. It would be difficult (to say the least) for anyone to decipher them. This is one HUGE advantage compared to, say, analog radio (like FRS, GMRS, MURS, or other systems).

  3. Messages can easily be directed to specific people or groups of people. This is another HUGE advantage compared to analog radio.

  4. There is no potential of misunderstood messages due to the inability to comprehend a garbled or staticky transmission, or one received in a loud environment. Also, unlike analog radio, a message that needs to be remembered can be kept for future reference.

  5. Groups of people carrying Gotennas would create a mesh network, extending range.

  6. Since a Gotenna is small, the interface is a smartphone, and texting is silent (unlike analog radio), less suspicion is aroused. Someone using a GoTenna for criminal activities just looks like someone texting their buddy about meeting up to go out for a drink.

  7. The ability to send emoji makes for a quick and easy way to send codes for various things/activities. Emoji also have the advantage that codes can be easier to remember (vs, say, code words or various strings of letters/numbers/symbols). At the same time, using codes (which can be forgotten or misinterpreted) might be less necessary due to the encryption used by Gotenna (unlike, say, analog radio).

  8. At least for the time being, Gotenna is a new thing. Many people in, say, law enforcement wouldn’t even think of the possibility that criminal groups could be using something Gotenna for communication.

  9. Gotenna is easy to use and maintain. Unlike, say, analog radio, if a battery goes dead, it is easily recharged using ordinary equipment that most people already have.

As others have said, the criminal element will ALWAYS find a way even if they don’t use Gotenna. But it is wrong to assume that Gotenna wouldn’t have its advantages and appeals in the criminal world.

While it certainly could be used. The lack of an established network and its limited range means it’s not likely. But hey if they want to build up the network more power to them.

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Then again, not all places even HAVE an established network. A good example would be pot farms in the wilderness or rural meth labs. Gotenna would certainly have its advantages in these sorts of situations.

Good! Make sure they build up the network in that area.

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By itself, the goTenna Mesh isn’t really any more helpful to facilitating criminal misuse than a pencil is. Anything can be misused. Criminalizing such misuse is a questionable exercise beyond the reach of existing laws. That sort of reaction tends to weigh more heaviliy on the vast majority of lawful users.

It’s probably worth pointing out that DESCRIBING how the criminally inclined can best make use of the mesh is actually helpful to those inclined to break the law. I’m not sure that combining that with hand-wringing over the fact is any less helpful. Just food for thought if you’re really concerned about such things. You’re not part of the solution if you’re part of the problem…

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Most of the environments I would expect to see those types of off grid operations are not conducive to 900mhz spectrum. Most are in wooded areas with heavy canopies to hide the operation. I’d personally use a different spectrum to break through that.

Many of your points can be applied to digital radio formats. I can pick up encrypted devices capable of text messaging starting around $70 each. In fact I and many people I know have them. We could hide our encrypted messages in the same bandwidth as businesses and no one would be the wiser. Plus the best part. No cell phone needed. Cell phones can be tracked unless they are in airplane mode.

Edit: I probably should add that if I really want to connect my encrypted radio to my phone I can do that via Bluetooth.

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I’ve spent weeks traveling around NYC through LE/LW, Midtown, waterfront and other areas with my GTM, and never, not even once, had a single response back to my public shouts, despite there being several hundred nodes on the map in my proximity.

I wouldn’t completely call it a dead-end, but for public, anonymous messaging with a GTM device, it is.

Signal also provided the encryption for WhatsApp which is popular in regimes where people simply congregating is considered a crime. WhatsApp is particularly popular in the Middle East, Africa and Brasil where people prefer it over SMS. That was the reason I installed it as it was the only way I could communicate with both my colleagues and my clients while travelling there.

@wvs is right that with the limited range of gotenna (short of someone flying a glider overhead) in any urban or dense forest environment is going to have to build up their own extensive network to get any utility from it. Not saying it can’t be done but any of us running stationary nodes where electricity is not present knows it isn’t trivial to keep these guys powered. That reminds me I have to go swap out a battery pack.

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ANYTHING can be used for nefarious purposes. ISIS uses FinalCutPro and MacBook Pro’s to create their beheading videos. That doesn’t mean that the vast majority of users of that software and hardware aren’t mostly making amazing films and videos and using their computers for productive societal uses. Similarly, the vast majority of goTenna Mesh users are using it to stay connected when they’re hiking, traveling, or as a civic emergency network just-in-case. All good things. If we tend to assume the worst about everything, then all technology has the basis for bad actors. It’s more worthwhile to see the glass half-full IMO.


This is probably a better frame for many GTM features than the idea that it facilitates crime. Things like encryption and anonymity can be misused. But by far their most frequent use is simply supporting the exercise of democracy under regimes that seem to feel the free exercise of thought, word, and speech is a threat to “public order”: the continuation of the regime. Not everyone slices and dices their opposition, but plenty of other nasty stuff can happen many places.

Then there are those places where it is very unclear whether their leaders support the values their citizens have long come to expect, even cozying up to the leaders of the slice-em-up nations. That is worrisome enough that some people may want to proactively protect their exercise of rights that seem to be protected today, but which may quickly fade away with the results of a single election gone the wrong way. Then the things we see as rights will be recast as “crime” against the state.

Not that I’m referring to any place most of us might recognize…more or less. :scream::sweat::zipper_mouth_face::wink:

Far better to cast what the goTenna Mesh does as the facilitation and protector of democratic values. Don’t feed the lies of regimes who cast their most concerned and caring citizens as criminals.

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WhatsApp has incredible penetration.
Particularly since WhatsApp has agreement’s that their data usage doesn’t even count against data caps. Excellent app although I don’t use it personally.