Linux News Today: FCC Proposal Would Make It Impossible to Install Open Source Firmware on Routers
The FCC or the Federal Communications Commission has received a proposal that aims to curtail the user’s ability to install custom firmware on certain devices, including routers. It’s a broad proposal, and it’s difficult to understand just how far it reaches, but for now it’s just that, a proposal.
It’s Sunday, and the Internet is rarely on fire on Sundays, but today seems to be a little bit different. The information regarding the infamous “Equipment Authorization and Electronic Labeling for Wireless Devices” got the attention of Reddit users and it got a life of its own from there on.
The original report came from a website named libreplanet.org that warned users about the fact that the FCC wanted to make it impossible to install alternative operating systems on PCs, like Linux, OpenBSD, and so on. That’s not entirely correct. FCC’s proposal only affects devices like routers and other embedded devices that would allow the use of another operating system.
FCC wants to keep the radio frequencies clear
One of the important things to notice is that the proposal is only opened for discussion for another couple of days and that it’s actually taking care of a problem that exists only in theory.
As some of you know, it’s currently possible to install other operating systems on routers, for example, over the original one. This is done fairly easily and, in theory, it would allow users to access different parts of the RF spectrum that would otherwise be unavailable. FCC wants vendors to lock this into place and stop users from installing custom hardware.
As you can see, this is pretty far off from preventing people to install Linux on PCs, but the jump is easy to make if you’re really looking for it.
Now the Internet is right to be worried about vendors locking down the ability to install custom hardware and this is a serious matter. It happened more than once for the open-source community to fix security problems or to make a better OS than the one that would ship by default.
The FCC proposal does make some mentions about exceptions such as those for the likes of DD-WRT, but that’s hardly enough. If you want to make a difference, go to the FCC website, read the proposal, and leave a comment. You still have a couple of days, so make the best of it.