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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
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  4. <title>EU Radio Lockdown Directive - FSFE</title>
  5. <meta name="description" content="The EU Radio Lockdown Directive threatens Free Software, user rights, innovation, security, and fair competition. We can change that - join us!" />
  6. <meta name="keywords" content="radio equipment directive, RED, 2014 53 EU, radio lockdown directive, european parliament, european commission, regulation, law, lobby, policy, threat, freifunk, routers, signal" />
  7. </head>
  8. <body id="radiodirective" class="article" microformats="h-entry">
  9. <!-- Breadcumb -->
  10. <p id="category"><a href="/work.html">Our work</a></p>
  11. <!-- / Breadcumb -->
  12. <h1 class="p-name">EU Radio Lockdown Directive</h1>
  13. <div class="e-content">
  14. <div id="introduction">
  15. <div class="right" style="max-width: 506px; width: 30%;">
  16. <img src="img/radiolockdown-cage.jpg" alt="a bird cage with a router and a mobile phone imprisoned, both sending radio waves" />
  17. </div>
  18. <p>Radio signals are everywhere and increasingly many devices connect using
  19. wireless and mobile networks or GPS. Legal regulations of the usage of radio
  20. signals are increasing, too. Now, a European directive wants to revise and
  21. extend them by demanding device manufacturers to check each device software's
  22. compliance. At first sight, this may sound reasonable but it has highly
  23. negative implications on <a href="#freesoftware">user rights and Free
  24. Software</a>, fair <a href="#competition">competition</a>, <a
  25. href="#society">innovation, environment, and volunteering</a> – mostly without
  26. comparably large benefits for <a href="#security">security</a>
  27. unfortunately.</p>
  28. <p>Many organisations and companies signed our <a
  29. href="/activities/radiodirective/statement.html">Joint Statement against Radio
  30. Lockdown Directive</a> in which we have formulated <a href="#proposals">several
  31. proposals</a> to EU institutions and EU member states with concrete steps to
  32. solve these issues.</p>
  33. </div>
  34. <h2>Briefly about the directive</h2>
  35. <p>In May 2014 the European Parliament and the European Council passed the
  36. Radio Equipment Directive <a
  37. href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX%3A32014L0053">2014/53/EU</a>.
  38. Its main purposes are harmonisation of existing regulations, improving security
  39. of radio spectra, and protection of health and safety. All EU members states
  40. have to implement the directive in national law until 12.06.2016 with a
  41. transition period of one year. The countries usually have some room for
  42. interpretation in the implementation process. The directive itself is not bad,
  43. and we support its aim at large. However, when it comes to the details of the
  44. software compliance assessment it seems that the lawmakers disproportionally
  45. disadvantaged users' rights and fair competition.</p>
  46. <p>In fact, almost all devices which can send and receive radio signals (WiFi,
  47. mobile network, GPS...) are affected. The crunch point is in Article 3.3(i):
  48. radio equipment shall support "<em>certain features in order to ensure that
  49. software can only be loaded into the radio equipment where the compliance of
  50. the combination of the radio equipment and software has been
  51. demonstrated</em>". This implies that device manufacturers have to check every
  52. software which can be loaded on the device regarding its compliance with
  53. applicable radio regulations (e.g. signal frequency and strength). Until now,
  54. the responsibility for the compliance rested on the users if they modified
  55. something, no matter if hardware- or software-wise.</p>
  56. <h2 id="freesoftware">Dangers for Free Software</h2>
  57. <p>The radio equipment directive 2014/53/EU will have a negative effect on
  58. users and companies. Because device manufacturers will have to assess every
  59. software regarding its compliance with existing national radio regulations
  60. (Art. 3.3(i)), we expect it to become impossible or very hard for users and
  61. companies to use alternative software on devices they bought – routers, mobile
  62. phones, WiFi-cards and the laptops they are built in, or almost all
  63. Internet-of-Things devices in the future.</p>
  64. <p>This not only is a severe burden for those affected but also violating the
  65. customers' rights of free choice. They will be locked in to software of the
  66. manufacturers because they cannot choose the software and hardware
  67. independently anymore. This aspect is crucial because alternative, especially
  68. <a href="/about/basics/freesoftware.html">Free Software</a>, often satisfies
  69. special requirements regarding security, technical features and standards, or
  70. legal demands.</p>
  71. <p>The status quo erects high barriers for customers to control their soft- and
  72. hardware. Increasingly many devices use radio signals, among them very
  73. sensitive ones like mobile phones, personal computers, household equipment, or
  74. the internet access gateways in homes and companies. For the sake of security
  75. and fair competition we have to make sure that people can always choose the
  76. software they want to run on their devices without additional constraints, as
  77. long as the software does respect current laws (see the <a
  78. href="#security">chapter about security</a>).</p>
  79. <p>We see negative outcomes of this directive already. Several manufacturers
  80. have installed modules on their devices checking which software is loaded. This
  81. is done by built-in non-free and non-removable modules disrespecting users'
  82. rights and demands to use technology which they can control. For the future we
  83. are afraid of modules not only checking software but for example also the exact
  84. location or behaviour of the owners. In the end that would make it harder or
  85. impossible to exchange software which works against one's interests, like
  86. spying on the respective user or business.</p>
  87. <h2 id="competition">Dangers for competition</h2>
  88. <p>There are many companies dependent on the usage of alternative and Free
  89. Software firmware on devices. Among them are wireless network providers,
  90. creators of more secure mobile operating systems, or programmers of
  91. custom-tailored and more efficient software solutions for existing hardware.
  92. All of them might be hindered and economically discriminated against by larger
  93. manufacturers with their infuse software. Alternative software is the
  94. foundation of many companies' products, and we should prevent economic
  95. disadvantages for them.</p>
  96. <p>Especially for smaller and medium-sized businesses we expect negative
  97. outcomes. First because of the dangers if their software is not or heavily
  98. delayed being assessed by manufacturers. Second due to the expectable high
  99. costs for those manufacturing enterprises having to assess each and every
  100. firmware thoroughly (see recital 29). This will also have an additional
  101. negative impact on start-up businesses.</p>
  102. <p>Concerning legal affairs we assume difficulties with existing license
  103. conditions, for example with the GNU General Public License. It requires all
  104. parts of the software to be under the same or a compatible license.
  105. Manufacturers having to include proprietary non-compatible software parts then
  106. might infringe the terms of the GNU GPL. This could force manufacturers not
  107. willing or able to include proprietary software parts to rewrite these huge
  108. parts from scratch which is impossible for many businesses and would hinder
  109. progress as it heavily slows down development.</p>
  110. <h2 id="society">Innovation, Volunteering, Sustainability</h2>
  111. <p>If the directive becomes effective without necessary exceptions (see below)
  112. this will affect basic conditions for innovation negatively. Progress is
  113. achieved by learning from past developments and walking new paths. If all
  114. communicative devices are locked down, a huge area of innovation will be
  115. too.</p>
  116. <p>Same applies to charity initiatives and organisations depending on using
  117. custom software on devices they bought. Efforts of volunteer associations, for
  118. example <a href="http://freifunk.net/">Freifunk</a> helping people in need to
  119. connect to the internet, may be rendered void or at least handicapped severely.
  120. Since we are sure that this implication was not intended by the European
  121. institutions we ask for necessary changes.</p>
  122. <p>Furthermore, alternative software on radio (and also non-radio) devices also
  123. promotes a sustainable economy. There are many devices still in working order
  124. which do not receive updates from the original manufacturers anymore. In most
  125. cases, Free Software firmware has a much longer support period which prevents
  126. users and customers having to dispose still working electronic equipment. In
  127. return, this also improves the security of users since older hardware still
  128. receives security updates after a manufacturer stops supporting those.</p>
  129. <h2 id="security">Speaking about security</h2>
  130. <p>We are in favor of the directive's aim to improve security of radio devices
  131. but not at the unbalanced expense of users' freedom and security in other
  132. areas. Firstly installing alternative software mostly helps increasing the
  133. devices' security. Secondly we are convinced that such strict regulations are
  134. not necessary for typical consumer products with limited radio output power.
  135. And thirdly we believe that such technical restrictions will not hinder those
  136. people willingly violating applicable radio regulations.</p>
  137. <p>Especially Free Software firmware projects are very advanced in terms of security
  138. measures, no least because technical errors get fixed quickly in collaborative
  139. and transparent processes. Alternative software solutions mostly have much longer
  140. security support cycles than the default manufacturer firmware. Many Free
  141. Software projects that are programming firmware for consumer devices address
  142. high security demands by offering special features the default software does
  143. not support. So instead of promoting security the current state of the radio
  144. equipment directive disables users and businesses to choose more secure
  145. software for their devices. If a software on a device actually violates a radio
  146. regulation it would be the more efficient way to support the software's
  147. creators instead of restricting users' independence on a massively broad
  148. level.</p>
  149. <h2 id="proposals">Our proposals</h2>
  150. <p>We formulated several proposals to EU institutions and EU members states.
  151. Many organisations and businesses support these goals and signed our <a
  152. href="/activities/radiodirective/statement.html">Joint Statement against Radio
  153. Lockdown</a>. We invite your organisation or company to also <a
  154. href="/activities/radiodirective/statement.html#sig">express your
  155. opinion</a>.</p>
  156. <blockquote>
  157. <h3>What we expect of EU institutions</h3>
  158. <p>We ask the European Commission to adopt delegated acts - as empowered by the
  159. European Parliament and Council (Art. 44) - which either </p>
  160. <ul>
  161. <li>make general exceptions for all Free Software not developed by the
  162. manufacturers of the respective radio equipment themselves but from other
  163. companies or individuals.</li>
  164. <li>do not shift the responsibility for the software's regulatory compliance
  165. from the users to the manufacturers when making changes to the default
  166. configuration. Software and hardware should not be treated differently in
  167. that respect.</li>
  168. </ul>
  169. </blockquote>
  170. <blockquote>
  171. <h3>What we expect of EU member states</h3>
  172. <p>We ask member state legislators to </p>
  173. <ul>
  174. <li>interpret the directive's provisions so that Free Software can still be
  175. installed on radio devices without discrimination, and users' rights are
  176. safeguarded. As pointed out in recital (19), third party software providers,
  177. such as Free Software projects, shall not be disadvantaged.</li>
  178. <li>make sure that small and medium-sized manufacturers will not be burdened
  179. disproportionally by being forced to assess each and every alternative
  180. software.</li>
  181. <li>make sure that users are not forced to install non-free software.</li>
  182. </ul>
  183. </blockquote>
  184. </div><!--/e-content-->
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  186. <h2>Related news</h2>
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  189. </body>
  190. <tags>
  191. <tag content="Radio Lockdown Directive">RadioDirective</tag>
  192. <tag content="Policy">Policy</tag>
  193. <tag content="Competition">Competition</tag>
  194. <tag content="European Parliament">EuropeanParliament</tag>
  195. <tag content="European Commission">EuropeanCommission</tag>
  196. </tags>
  197. <sidebar promo="our-work">
  198. <dynamic-content />
  199. <h2>Further Reading</h2>
  200. <ul>
  201. <li><a href="/activities/radiodirective/statement.html">Joint Statement against Radio Lockdown</a></li>
  202. </ul>
  203. <h3>Latest News</h3>
  204. <ul>
  205. <fetch-news/>
  206. </ul>
  207. <h3>External links</h3>
  208. <ul>
  209. <li><a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX%3A32014L0053">Full text of RED 2014/53/EU</a></li>
  210. <!--<li><a href="http://blog.die-linke.de/digitalelinke/niemand-hat-die-absicht-freie-software-zu-verbieten/">Statement of German party DIE LINKE</a></li>-->
  211. </ul>
  212. </sidebar>
  213. <timestamp>$Date$ $Author$</timestamp>
  214. </html>
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