[Battlemesh] IEEE magazine on FCC lockdown
sven at narfation.org
Wed Apr 20 11:18:03 CEST 2016
On Wednesday 20 April 2016 09:42:00 leonardo wrote:
> via bufferbloat-FCC-discuss...
> It seems that the author of this paper in IEEE consumer electronic
> thinks that Simon Wunderlich did not get things right about FCC
> Really, this is what he says...
No, he isn't. The author uses Simon's statements about the possible effect
(which unfortunately is already visible because device vendors started to lock
down the devices - not the only wifi chip firmware) to explain what he thinks
is the actual intention of the FCC. I completely disagree with his use of the
statement "But paranoia still exists that the FCC is being empowered by evil
corporations ..." because it pushes the movement against the new FCC
requirements in the fearmongering corner. Most likely not his own intent but
this is how it reads for "affected" people.
There is still a difference between the intention of the FCC and the effects.
And we should also consider that "evil" is not just an attribute which you
assign to yourself like in D&D. The branding "evil" is assigned by other
people based on their view about a topic or an action. If we really want to
say that this move by the FCC is "evil" (I actually don't want it - but just
use the words of this author for now) then it is just because the effects for
us are bad. Vendors already shut down their hardware "completely" and we first
have to break their "security" to make use of the hardware again.
The author doesn't point out the intent of this session in last years
battlemesh when he used it to describe the opposition of the new requirement.
It was to done (please correct me Simon) to discuss this problem and to find
solutions which would make the operators of community networks, the hardware
vendors and FCC happy. I would say that this didn't succeeded. At least the
information about the new FCC requirements were spread and let to some
projects [1,2,3] that discussed this problem further and called for more
But maybe he just didn't write about this extensively about the session to
keep his article short. This would also explain why he didn't write about the
possible (non-"evil") reasons for this new FCC requirement discussed in this
And his statement "FCC is calling out in FCC 14-30 is the “firmware” that is
located inside the radio chip or application-specific integrated circuit" is
rather controversial because they used the term "DD-WRT" (which is a device
firmware and not a wifi chip firmware) earlier in their questionnaire. It was
most likely not their intent but they made it really hard not to interpret it
this way. And right now, WiFi firmware chip versions can still be replaced and
mostly only hindered the lawful use of the devices (e.g. in mesh networks with
ath10k). I don't know (but could easily be wrong) of any widely deployed wifi
chip used in community networks which uses some kind of cryptographic
mechanism which would stop anyone from installing a hacked wifi chip firmware
(and wifi chip firmware only). But even when it doesn't exist now - maybe this
will come and thus confirm his standpoint.
But I doubt that he doesn't know about the background because he already links
the Wired article  about the FCC lockdown. It would also nice when he would
also quoted the next sentence from the Wired article: "It’s just that breaking
those locks opens tinkerers up to prosecution under the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act—a distinction comes with up to 5 years in prison and $500,000
fine.". Not that I would know a lot about the legal background but at least
this statement sounds important in context of his earlier quote which
trivialized the breaking of digital locks.
We will not start to being happy and praise the new FCC requirements but I
think he has the rights to point out the intentions we may (or may not) have
missed. But at least for me it was nothing new which wasn't written already at
many other articles.
(this is about the EU counterpart)
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