EU plans to ban the sale of user-moddable radio frequency devices – like phones and routers – have provoked widespread condemnation from across the political bloc.
The controversy centres on Article 3(3)(i) of the EU Radio Equipment Directive, which was passed into law back in 2014.
However, an EU working group is now about to define precisely which devices will be subject to the directive – and academics, researchers, individual “makers” and software companies are worried that their activities and business models will be outlawed.
Article 3(3)(i) states that RF gear sold in the EU must support “certain features in order to ensure that software can only be loaded into the radio equipment where the compliance of the combination of the radio equipment and software has been demonstrated”.
If the law is implemented in its most potentially harmful form, no third-party firmware could be installed onto something like a home router, for example.
Hauke Mehrtens of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) told The Register: “If the EU forces Wi-Fi router manufacturers to prevent their customers from installing their own software onto their devices this will cause great harm to the OpenWrt project, wireless community networks, innovative startups, computer network researchers and European citizens. This would increase the electronic waste, make it impossible for the user to fix security vulnerabilities by himself or the help of the community and block research which could improve the internet in the EU.”
Oh dear, does this not mean you don’t really own the stuff you buy?