23 organisations including the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) joined up in proposing measures to EU institutions and EU member states to avoid negative implications on users' rights and Free Software imposed by the EU Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EU.
The ‘Radio Lockdown Directive’ that will be applicable in the EU since 13 June 2016 threatens software freedom, users' rights, fair competition, innovation, environment, and volunteering – without comparable benefits for security. It introduces disproportionate ‘essential requirement’ in the form of forcing device manufacturers to prove radio regulatory compliance for every possible software able to run on every product using the radio frequency spectrum. In practice, this means that in the future only particular software authorised by the manufacturers can be installed on any device connecting through wireless and mobile networks or GPS: e.g. routers, mobile phones, WiFi cards and the laptops they are built in, or almost all devices including network functionality.
This requirement will lock users to hardware manufacturers, and will also disadvantage businesses based on Free Software or any other alternative software not installed by default by the manufacturer of the device. Thereby it will have negative implications on fair competition and freedom to conduct business. The requirement to assess every possible hardware and software combination to be compliant with the RED – which is envisaged to enhance security of radio devices – disables users and businesses to choose software whose security problems can be fixed by everybody without having to relay on the vendor.
The FSFE and the other signatories, therefore, ask the EU institutions and the EU member states to safeguard rights of users and businesses to use and install Free Software and any other alternative third-party software on their devices; to avoid the lockdown of the devices to the software provided by the hardware manufacturer; and refrain from shifting the responsibility for the software's regulatory compliance from the users to the manufacturers when making changes to the default configuration. Software and hardware should not be treated differently in that respect. The EU Commission has been entitled to adopt delegated acts which can make these vitally needed adjustments.
The joint statement on the Radio Lockdown Directive is open to more signatures. Whether a user, a charity project, or a business, the Radio Lockdown Directive affects everyone. We ask other organisations and companies to support our statement and make sure that the Radio Lockdown Directive will not place blanket, unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the rights of consumers and businesses when implementing the Directive into national legislations.
Please also read our detailed analysis, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.