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I brought PCs as an example because it's a relatively open hardware platform and you can run Linux or BSD and have an imperfect control of everything that is going on.

On phones, things have gotten much worse. Although you can flash a relatively open ROM in case of Android, good luck controlling what the baseband does behind the scenes.

And if we talk about cars and other devices like smart watches, there's often zero openness.




good luck controlling what the baseband does behind the scenes

I actually have a lot of sympathy with that one, because radio transmission is one of those areas where one idiot who thinks he's clever and should have total control of his device can literally disrupt entire networks for everyone else over a wide area, with the obvious serious consequences. Modern wireless communications systems rely much more than most people realise on conventions and standards and everything playing nice, so regulating such that only licensed practitioners are authorised to make parts that transmit within prescribed specifications is not an absurd idea.

Of course, that doesn't mean a closed part of the system like radio control should have any access to any other part of the system. It ought to be essentially a firewalled client of the more open parts of the system. And if it's going to be regulated and controlled then the people licensed to develop those components should be required to have them only perform the defined function according to standardised specs, without anything else piggybacking on top.


With the controlling part I referred to knowing what the baseband is doing, not necessarily changing the way it works.

Right now we don't know whether for example it's even powered when your phone is on airplane mode and collecting data.


Yes, that's true. That's why if there is regulation allowing them to be closed units and limiting who can make them, I'm also in favour of that regulation restricting their functionality to only standardised specs (and regulators being able to audit this and impose meaningful penalties for compliance failures).




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