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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html newsdate="2019-02-05">
<title>Huawei case demonstrates importance of Free Software for security</title>
Huawei case demonstrates importance of Free Software for security
<p>The discussion of the Huawei security concerns
showcases a general trust issue when it comes to critical
infrastructure. A first step to solve this problem is to publish the
code under a Free and Open Source Software licence and take measures to
facilitate its independently-verifiable distribution.</p>
<p>The ongoing debate about banning Huawei hardware for the rollout of
5G networks, following earlier state espionage allegations, falls too
short. It is not just about the Chinese company but about a general
lack of transparency within this sector. As past incidents proved, the
problem of backdoors inside blackboxed hard- and software is widely
spread, independently from the manufacturers' origins.</p>
<div class="captioned" style="margin: 1.5em auto;">
<img src="" alt="A digital building disallows to audit its code. A metaphor for software blackboxes." />
<p>However, it is unprecedented that the demand to inspect the source
code of a manufacturer's equipment has been discussed so broadly and
intensely. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) welcomes that the
importance of source code is recognised, but is afraid that the
proposed solution falls too short. Allowing inspection of the secret
code by selected authorities and telephone companies might help in this
specific case, but will not solve the general problem.</p>
<p>To establish trust in critical infrastructure like 5G, it is a
crucial precondition that all software code powering those devices is
published under a Free and Open Source Software licence. Free and Open
Source Software guarantees the four freedoms to use, study, share, and
improve an application. On this basis, everyone can inspect the code,
not only for backdoors, but for all security risks. Only these freedoms
allow for independent and continuous security audits which will lead
citizens, the economy, and the public sector to trust their
communication and data exchange.</p>
<p>Furthermore, in order to verify code integrity – so that the
provided source code corresponds to the executable code running on the
equipment – it is either necessary that there are reproducible builds
in case of binary distribution, or that providers are brought into the
position to compile and deploy the code on their own.</p>
<blockquote><p>"We should not only debate the Huawei case but extend
the discussion to all critical infrastructure." says Max Mehl, FSFE
Programme Manager. "Only with Free and Open Source Software,
transparency and accountability can be guaranteed. This is a long-known
crucial precondition for security and trust. We expect from state
actors to immediately implement this solution not only for the Huawei
case but for all comparable IT security issues."</p></blockquote>
<tag key="front-page"/>
<tag key="security">IT Security</tag>
<tag key="pmpc">Public Code</tag>
<tag key="huawei">Huawei</tag>
<image url="" alt="A digital building disallows to audit its code. A metaphor for software blackboxes." />
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