New FCC rules may impact Linux-based devices
New U.S. regulations went into effect today that could change how vendors of devices with software-defined radios (SDR) use open-source software. The new rules could impact manufacturers of mobile phones, WiFi cards, and other devices that use SDR technologies.
SDR technologies are commonly used in today’s mobile phones and WiFi equipment. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new regulations are apparently aimed at ensuring that users of such equipment cannot access source code needed to reprogram it — for example, to output more power, or operate on inappropriate frequencies, either of which could conceivably endanger public safety.
A summary document published by the FCC suggests that the new regulations were actually proposed by Cisco, a vendor of wireless cards and other networking equipment. The summary document suggests that because of the new rules, SDR device vendors who use open-source software in certain capacities could face challenges getting FCC approval.
The FCC’s summary report reads, in part:
The Commission hereby states that … manufacturers should not intentionally make the distinctive elements that implement that manufacturer’s particular security measures in a software defined radio public, if doing so would increase the risk that these security measures could be defeated or otherwise circumvented to allow operation of the radio in a manner that violates the Commission’s rules. A system that is wholly dependent on open source elements will have a high burden to demonstrate that it is sufficiently secure to warrant authorization as a software defined radio.
Read more: LinuxDevices