One year ago today, an NSA contractor named Edward Snowden went public with his history-changing revelations about the NSA's massive system of indiscriminate surveillance. Today the FSF is releasing Email Self-Defense, a guide to personal email encryption to help everyone, including beginners, make the NSA's job a little harder. We're releasing it as part of Reset the Net, a global day of action to push back against the surveillance-industrial complex.
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While it may be a while before we can have a 100% free software microcode/firmware on the the cellular hardware itself, isolating that hardware from the rest of your programming and data is a seemingly important step that we can take right now. At least to the FSF anyhow. What do others think: is a 100% free software mobile device important to you?"
If the FSF really want to do something useful, they should start with something smaller.
Our first products to recieve Repsects Your Freedom (RYF) certification (i.e., use of the RYF certification mark on their product) was the LulzBot 3D printer made by Aleph Objects, Inc. (the latest model is the TAZ). The next products we certified were wireless chipsets sold by ThinkPenguin. The latest company we worked with, Gluglug, came forward and submitted these laptops to us for certification, so we reviewed the work they did and then awarded them use of the RYF certification mark.
The kind of approach you discuss makes sense. But, should the FSF really be building and selling hardware? From what you are saying it sounds like, perhaps, you understand hardware a lot better than I do. As such, I hope you will launch a business to do the kinds of things you discuss. If you do, and you aim to sell hardware that meets our certification criteria, I'd be happy to talk with you about what we can do to help in terms of promotion or endorsement.
Thanks for the feedback.
Licensing & Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation
In the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."
In the words of Elie Wiesel: "I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. "
In the words of Dante Alighieri: "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
- First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
- Bill of Rights Defense Committee
- Calguns Foundation
- California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees
- Council on Islamic Relations
- Franklin Armory
- Free Press
- Free Software Foundation
- Human Rights Watch
- Media Alliance
- National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
- Open Technology Institute
- People for the American Way, Public Knowledge
- Students for Sensible Drug Policy
- Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
Stallman had this to say upon his induction, "Now that we have made the Internet work, the next task is to stop it from being a platform for massive surveillance, and make it work in a way that respects human rights, including privacy.""
What do you think? Is there any other computer/IT jargon that annoys you or that you wish you could replace with a different word or phrase?"
Update:The FSF's DefectiveByDesign.org team and supporters held a glitzy and glamorous gathering, today, in order to present the W3C with an award for "Best Supporting Role in 'The Hollyweb'," accompanied by over 22,500 verified signatures from members of the public who oppose a proposal that would weave DRM into the fabric of the Web."
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Buy the way, any change you make would have to be certified by the FCC as being compliant and that can be expensive.
I'm pretty sure this is not true. I recently read a tech topic blog on the FCC site that states,
WLAN was originally designed and developed as a home networking technology for nomadic users to wirelessly extend an Ethernet equivalent local area network (LAN) using shared communications media among a group of users through a wireless connection that operates at relatively short distances. WLAN uses license-exempt spectrum bands regulated by FCC rules, 47 C.F.R. Part 15.2 The FCC originally conceived the license-exempt bands to provide a no-cost slice of public access spectrum with only two provisions. First, the transmitter could cause no harmful interference to any nearby licensed services, and secondly, any receiver in this band must be able to accept any interference that may be present. Subsequently, the first wireless LAN was developed by the IEEE 802.11 standards committee (widely known as Wireless Fidelity or 'Wi-Fi' and 'Radio LAN') in 1997. Interestingly, the Wi-Fi standards were a response on the part of industry to the relatively restriction free use of the license-exempt spectrum allocation and rules.
2: See http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_07/47cfr15_07.html for the Part 15 rules. Note that the letter versions of the standards are not chronologically consistent since version (b) actually came before (a)!
But, even if you were right, it's important to know that you don't have to hack alone. You can work with others. Let's say you are worried some change you want to make could lead to some malfunction which would boost the signal. You could file a feature request to the project and see if someone else will make the change and test it. Or, if you make the change in code and are worried about installing it yourself, submit the patch upstream and see if others can review the code and test it for you. Just because things could potentially go wrong doesn't mean we should live in fear and abstain from using, fixing, or customizing our software.
Control your hardware, don't let it control you. =]
The FSF decided to investigate this AR9271 part. I'm not sure why.
The reason is because RYF certification is not simply done on software for a given chipset. RYF certification works by us entering into a formal agreement with a company that sells hardware. The agreement states that the company can display the RYF certification mark on all products that pass our testing and certification process so long as that company agrees to meet various requirements; we agree to do a limited amount of promotion on the product (press release, listing the product on our site, etc). In this case, the agreement is with ThinkPenguin and the product we tested and certified is the TPE-N150USB.
Over time we will certify more products and enter into agreements with more companies. I hope that people will come to trust the RYF certification mark and seek it out when looking to purchase computers and other hardware products — thus making it valuable to both the buyer and seller.
If you know a company selling devices with these other chipsets that support free firmware, or really any company selling hardware that supports 100% free software, please email us to let us know, and maybe send that company a link to FSF.org/RYF and encourage them to consider applying for certification.
The submitter of this story hopes you will overlook the fact that he works for the FSF, but more importantly, that you will notice cool story that is within this story... which is that the firmware for the Atheros AR9271 chipset was released as a result of a small device seller (ThinkPenguin) striking a deal with a large electronic device manufacturer (Qualcomm Atheros) to build a WLAN USB adapter that shipped with 100% free software firmware. This deal was possible largely because two motivated Qualcomm Atheros employees, Adrian Chadd and Luis Rodriguez, made the internal-push to get the firmware released as free software."
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