[Battlemesh] TP-Link FCC deal

Daniel Golle daniel at makrotopia.org
Tue Aug 2 11:49:03 CEST 2016

On Tue, Aug 02, 2016 at 07:14:15AM +0300, Jonathan Morton wrote:
> > On 2 Aug, 2016, at 01:05, David Lang <david at lang.hm> wrote:
> > 
> > If the post later in the thread is correct, the fact that they got in trouble for their stock firmware allowing too much power when they were trying the claim that they were preventing that by blocking open firmware is very interesting to see.
> It’s even possible that this practical demonstration that closed firmware was no more trustworthy than open was a final deciding factor for the FCC.

... because people were able to change the country code and thus use
channel 12 and 13 which aren't part of the FCC's ISM band.
If they expect this type of deliberate transgression to be prevented
by $vendor while still allowing the user to use 3rd-party firmware,
that would really force device-makers to use DRM-techniques (like an
efuse to only allow setting the country code *once* at the time of
import...?) *and* isolate the whole wifi subsystem either in hardware
(Marvell, Intel, ...) or by introducing a $vendor-controlled hypervisor
(like imgtec/MIPS suggested). Both is very, very ugly from a FOSS point
of view, devices which were running (almost) 100% free software (and
thus allowing for indepenent review) will end-up to be as 'free' as
in Android or other Open Source jails surrounded by proprietary walls.

I'm disgusted by how this debate is being used by certain players to
get rid of competitors, pretending this could be solved by being 'well
prepared' or by making 'better products' or any other random claim a
marketing fart could smell like. Ok, I'm less disgusted by marketing
departments of $vendor to try that, because that's their job and more
disgusted by tech media outlets to buy that (I hope they were at least
well paid for being part of that campain).

I reckon this whole mess could have been prevented if vendors would
have populated the calibration partition as intended by the chip
vendors instead of ignoring it in order to not produce for a specific
target market and have the user set the regulatory domain herself.

In the end, the whole story is quite detached from reality, because
deliberate transgressions will always be possible by modifying the
hardware (think: crazy antennas) and cannot be prevented in software

It's like asking car-makers to build cars which automatically respect
the speed-limits -- and oops, in order to do that they'll have to
track and transmit everybody's location, make it impossible to access
the engine and other critical parts and give an excuse for a lot of
uglyness to the dominating players. Half-dying dinosaurs like Ford and
GM could bash on Hyundai for not being prepared for the legal
requirements early enough and lobby to have their products banned.

Actually, the car-industry recently provided a very good exmaple of
what happends if you trust legal compliance to $vendor and allow them
to obfuscate the code...



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