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  4. <title>Compulsory routers – FSFE</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body id="routers" class="article" microformats="h-entry">
  7. <h1 class="p-name">Compulsory routers</h1>
  8. <div class="e-content">
  9. <div id="introduction">
  10. <p>It should go without saying that in our society we should be able to freely
  11. choose technical devices for use in our homes like we are free to choose what
  12. mobile phone we buy. But some Internet service providers dishonor this principle
  13. by dictating which device their customers have to use in order to connect to the internet
  14. or they discriminate against the owners of alternative devices. This undermining of our
  15. basic freedom of choice is called “compulsory routers” and is being strongly criticised by the Free Software Foundation Europe and many other organisations, projects and
  16. individuals. Compulsory routers is not merely a topic for experts. It affects all of us.</p>
  17. </div>
  18. <h2>What are routers, and what sort of compulsion?</h2>
  19. <p>Routers are devices that handle other functions besides connecting to the internet, for
  20. instance WiFi, Voice over IP (VoIP), and TV streaming, and also technical details such
  21. as port forwarding, dynamic DNS, or VPN tunneling. Normally, all internet-based communication
  22. passes through routers.</p>
  23. <p>ISPs such as Telekom, Vodafone, Kabeldeutschland, and many others in Germany,
  24. often offer a recommended router with the contract. In principle that is not bad because
  25. then users do not need to go searching for a suitable device themselves. On the other
  26. hand there must always be the option of deciding for a device oneself without having to be
  27. dependant on the goodwill of the ISP. Why is this so important? There are several reasons,
  28. some of a general and others of a technical nature.</p>
  29. <ol>
  30. <li><strong>Trust and Preferences</strong>:
  31. Every person has different preferences when it comes to the selection of electronic devices.
  32. An ISP should not set itself over this freedom of decision. If customers do not want to use
  33. the ISP-recommended device for any reason, the ISP must respect this without repercussions
  34. for the user.</li>
  35. <li><strong>Privacy and Data Protection</strong>:
  36. Dozens of times, standard routers from ISPs have been known to have security flaws
  37. or be victims of backdoors that allowed intelligence agencies and criminals to access the
  38. infrastructure behind the device.
  39. Customers thus need the freedom to choose a device or manufacturer that they trust in.
  40. In opposition to this, compulsory routers destroy the already damaged trust in new
  41. technologies.</li>
  42. <li><strong>Free Competition and Technological Progress</strong>:
  43. Users profit from the free competition that guarantees free choice and steady
  44. improvement of products. Should, however, more and more ISPs force the usage of
  45. compulsory routers, smaller router manufacturers would be at a disadvantage because
  46. almost no one could use their devices. In this way, small and alternative manufacturers
  47. would no longer be able to stay on the market. This would, eventually,come at the cost of
  48. the user because (security) features would be be continually reduced and the
  49. user-friendliness would drop.</li>
  50. <li><strong>Compatibility</strong>: Nowadays, the diversity of technical devices
  51. is huge. In principle this is a good thing because we can freely choose the products
  52. which are most appealing. Unfortunately there are, for instance, routers to which only
  53. certain telephones may be connected. Users need to purchase new hardware solely
  54. because of the unwillingness of the internet service providers. From the consumer’s
  55. and the environment’s point of view this is unfavourable due to the build up of electronic
  56. waste even though the devices would still work..</li>
  57. <li><strong>Security Concerns from Monocultures and Lacking Updates</strong>:
  58. Security experts are already worried about the growing number of technical monocultures.
  59. These come about when a large percentage of a technological sector is dominated by only
  60. one product family or manufacturer. Then, if major problems or security holes appear, an
  61. enormous number of users are affected at once. Most ISPs only use a few router models
  62. and thus endanger the security of their customers.
  63. <p>That is particularly problematic when manufacturers and providers are very slow in the delivery
  64. of critical updates. Often it is not possible for compulsory router customers to perform updates
  65. themselves, although they may already be available from the router manufacturer. Thus, customers
  66. are incapacitated with regard to their security.</p></li>
  67. </ol>
  68. </div><!--/e-content-->
  69. <h2>Related news</h2>
  70. <fetch-news/>
  71. </body>
  72. <sidebar promo="our-work">
  73. <h2>More about compulsory routers</h2>
  74. <ul>
  75. <li><a href="/activities/routers/timeline.html">Timeline of compulsory routers</a></li>
  76. <li><a href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/Activities/CompulsoryRouters/Implementation/Germany">Status of the new law's implementation in Germany</a></li>
  77. </ul>
  78. <h2>External articles about compulsory routers</h2>
  79. <ul>
  80. <li><a href="https://blog.mehl.mx/2016/erste-testgeraete-fuer-routerfreiheit-versendet/">First testing devices sent out (German)</a></li>
  81. <li><a href="http://blog.mehl.mx/2014/why-free-choice-of-routers-is-an-unnegotiable-must/">Why free choice of routers is an unnegotiable must</a></li>
  82. </ul>
  83. </sidebar>
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