[Battlemesh] IEEE magazine on FCC lockdown

leonardo mail at leonardo.ma
Wed Apr 20 16:01:43 CEST 2016

On Wed, 2016-04-20 at 11:18 +0200, Sven Eckelmann wrote:
> 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
> > intentions. 
> > 
> > Really, this is what he says...
> > 
> > http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=7450774&tag
> > =1
> No, he isn't. The author uses Simon's statements about the possible
> effect 

well, he is: "the concerns Simon is considering [..]. It is an
interesting point but this is not the intentions of the FCC". But anywa
y, that was just a bit of hype I added. 

I think it is interesting that in an IEEE magazine (I frankly do not
know how reputable the magazine is, but still it is an official IEEE
magazine) they report Simon's words, it means that the level of the
debate we had in this community is relevant (or maybe that the author
mentioned the first thing he found around). 

About the rest, I agree with you that I don't like the tone in the
paper and that some issues are misrepresented. 

> 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.

This is the point that i wanted to discuss. There is this line of
interpretation that says "intentions of FCC are good, implementation is
wrong". Where:
 - intentions means: "lock down frequency/powerlevel/DFS..." in the
Radio chip to use the unlicensed spectrum as FCC mandates.  
 - implementations is what Simon said in the other email: since vendors
like tp-link today can not simply enforce the lockdown on the radio
-only, they locked everything to stay on the market.

Now let's say that tomorrow technology X allows to lock down radio
firmware. Do we like it or not? would this be a reasonable trade-off to
preserve our ability to reflash the OS in the device? in the
 bufferbloat-FCC-discuss ML it seems the answer is a big NO, I'd like
to know how this ML feels. 
Concretely, since in Europe we have the ongoing similar problem, should
we go to our governments and convince them that they should apply a
"lock the radio" implementation of the Radio Directive?

> 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.

We also have the rights to tell IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine our
opinion, if we want. We can ask the editors (among them there is also
the author of the piece) if they are interested in a 2-pages paper
stating the point of view of the community. 


> Kind regards,
> 	Sven
> [1] http://huchra.bufferbloat.net/~d/fcc_saner_software_practices.pdf
> [2] http://savewifi.org/
> [3] https://fsfe.org/activities/radiodirective/
>     (this is about the EU counterpart)
> [4] http://www.wired.com/2015/09/hey-fcc-dont-lock-wi-fi-routers/

More information about the Battlemesh mailing list