Defending Free Software for radio devices
Submitted by panos on April 15, 2016 - 11:04pm
The netCommons project follows very closely the developments regarding the EU radio directive which was adopted in 2014, and which is currently being transposed at the national level by the member states. The reason is that Article 3.3 might put in jeopardy the ability to . Although at a first glance this looks like a wise decision, it may cause unneccessary harm if not implemented approprietely in the national legislations. We try to answer below in simple words a few frequently asked questions in this context, as a quick summary of the detailed analysis provided by FSFE, and a first step toward a more thorough legal investigation of this issue.
What is the EU radio directive?
According to the Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EU, which needs to be implemented by EU members in national law ntil 12.06.2016 with a transition period of one year, all devices that can send and receive radio signals need to be checked for compliance by their manufacturers for every possible software which can be installed on the device.
What is the current situation?
Today, responsible for non-compliance to regulation are the users that make changes either on the hardware or software of the device. egitimate changes include the installation of Free Software, satisf special technical requirements regarding security and supported protocols.
What is the problem?
The main danger arising from this directive is that it ill make it extremely costly for manufacturers to check properly all non-proprietary software that can run on their devices forcing them to forbid completely this action. To this, manufacturers may have to install software that would infringe the terms of the GNU GPL. This ould force them to rewrite huge software parts from scratch which is impossible for many businesses.
Why is Free Software important?
- It promotes innovation
- It empowers non-profit organization to provide affordable Internet access to areas and populations
- It offers advanced security solutions, which are transparent and continuously maintained by a global community
- It provides the means to keep operational devices with positive impact
- It protects consumers from lock-in and non-transparent policies by big corporations
What can we do?
The European Commission can adopt delegated acts - as empowered by the European Parliament and Council (Art. 44)
that make general exceptions for all Free Software not developed by the manufacturers or avoid shifting the responsibility for the software's regulatory compliance from the users to the manufacturers.
The EU member state legislators can the directive's provisions so that Free Software can still be installed on radio devices without discrimination. As pointed out in recital (19) third party software providers,such as Free Software projects, shall not be disadvantaged
So, there is still a to minimize the possible harm by this directive, if we reach those that can influence its final transposition to national law.
23 organizations and companies, including netCommons, have signed the Joint Statement against the Radio Lockdown, and you are also welcome to sign!
Whom should I contact to learn more and help?
Where can I read more about how things evolved?
The FCC rules in the US laid out in ET Docket No. 15-170 get noticed
The first reactions: Dave Täht, co-founder of the Bufferbloat Project, and Dr. Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet, along with more than 260 other global network and cybersecurity experts send a letter to the FCC
From the US to the EU
Counter-replies to FCC:
The EU Radio Directive is approved and first devices getting locked
Letters addressing legislators and regulators are written by various organizations