Save WiFi/Individual Comments

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Feb 17, 2016 Update:

We got confirmation today from one of the largest router manufacturer that they have begun locking router firmware down due to recent FCC rule changes. This is exactly what the Save Wifi campaign participants had been arguing would happen for the past several months. Despite the FCC unequivocally denying that this was there intention it was irrelevant to the outcome and response of manufacturers to the new rules. The competitiveness of the market and costs of compliance means the only real solution for manufactures to comply is the lock down of there router's firmware. The TP-Link rep went on to say that all future routers would be locked down as a direct result of the rule changes.

These rules are bad and already hindering user freedom. The FCC has pulled a fast one and we need to fight back. This is a major security and privacy threat which will lead to even buggier and more insecure wireless hardware. A legal campaign to end this nonsense will require significantly more funding and criticism. Unfortunately the major players on fighting this are burning out. Christopher Waid, of ThinkPenguin, Dave Taht, of BufferBloat, Eric Schultz, Josh Gay of the FSF, and others just don't have the time or resources to keep fighting this. Don't let this be the end.

The Save Wifi campaign needs major financial help if we're going to put an end to this. Please donate to the effort at: https://gofundme.com/save_wifi_round_2 . Please see www.SaveWIfi.org for updates.

Read more about what TP-Link had to say here:

http://ml.ninux.org/pipermail/battlemesh/2016-February/004379.html



The FCC comment period is over.

The Save Wifi coalition is not dead, but we're working toward continueing onto further phases still. Stay tuned.

In the mean time please see here for some of what is going on in Europe:

https://blog.tohojo.dk/2015/10/the-new-wifi-regulations-in-europe.html

Note: We're generally not happy with the response of the FCC to our campaign. The FCC's claims to having addressed the issue by narrowing the wording in its guide to manufacturers is wrong. Simply changing the wording to be narrowly focused does not change what manufacturers will do to comply with the rules. It's not clear how a manufacturer is suppose to lock the parameters without locking down the firmware. They also fail to explain how one is to lock down DFS. The DFS code issue was completely unaddressed. This can't be done in hardware either. The general consensuses of the developers and engineers working on routers and wifi chipsets is that we got a non-answer to the concerned presented.

Further protest will be needed to get the FCC to address this issue. Please stay tuned.

Eric (a participant in the Save Wifi coalition) has written a detailed post in regards to the FCC's non-response.

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Right now, the FCC is considering a proposal to require manufacturers to lock down computing devices (routers, PCs, phones) to prevent modification if they have a "modular wireless radio"[1][2] or a device with an "electronic label"[3]. The rules would likely:

  • Restrict installation of alternative operating systems on your PC, like GNU/Linux, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, etc.
  • Prevent research into advanced wireless technologies, like mesh networking and bufferbloat fixes
  • Ban installation of custom firmware on your Android phone
  • Discourage the development of alternative free and open source WiFi firmware, like OpenWrt
  • Infringe upon the ability of amateur radio operators to create high powered mesh networks to assist emergency personnel in a disaster.
  • Prevent resellers from installing firmware on routers, such as for retail WiFi hotspots or VPNs, without agreeing to any condition a manufacturer so chooses.

For a more detailed explanation of the situation, related issues, rules, and clarification about the inaccuracies of news articles suggesting these rules are not an issue or less of an issue please check out the excellent write up by prpl.works (a long time participant in the Save Wifi campaign).

Take Action Now!

The FCC is asking for comments on this proposal. The most important thing you can do is comment on the FCC's proposal and tell them you want to be able to control your computing devices. Will you do this?

Comment deadline extended to October 9. [1]

Instructions:

  1. Go to the Federal Register Old link (Don't get fooled by deadline of November given there - error on the Federal Register page, deadline is now Oct 9, please continue to send comment) and press "Submit a formal comment"
  2. Start your comment by respectfully asking the FCC to not implement rules that take away the ability of users to install the software of their choosing on their computing devices. Additional points of emphasis you should consider adding:
    • Wireless networking research depends on the ability of researchers to investigate and modify their devices.
    • Americans need the ability to fix security holes in their devices when the manufacturer chooses to not do so.
    • Users have in the past fixed serious bugs in their wifi drivers, which would be banned under the NPRM.
    • Not fixing security holes either feeds cyberthreats or increases electronic waste.
    • Billions of dollars of commerce, such as secure wifi vendors, retail hotspot vendors, depends on the ability of users and companies to install the software of their choosing.
  3. Enter your name and address. This is a public comment and your personal information provided will be publicly available.

Once you've submitted your comment, make sure to encourage others to submit comments opposing these restrictions on computing devices. Use the #SaveWifi hashtag on Twitter or your favorite microblogging services.

Additionally, if you'd like to further get involved, please join the mailing list, fcc@lists.prplfoundation.org, by visiting http://lists.prplfoundation.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fcc.
  1. https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-956A1.pdf DA 15-956