Last weekend, the German Pirate Party held its federal party convent to discuss and potentially agree on various amendments to their manifesto. Among them, there was amendment number 551: “Freie Softwareinstallation statt App-Store-Zwang” (German). A proposal, that aims at giving every user the right to install whatever software he likes on any computer-like device – instead of being locked to the vendors app-store.
More precise, the content of this proposal reads like:
Given by law, there is the right for free installation of whatever software you like on any ‘computer-like’ device. For the vendor, it’s legal to sell a locked device – but unlocking the device by the user must be implemented in an easy way by the default operating system. All software that will be installed, must be given the possibility for full access to all interfaces of the device. In addition, warranty may not be declared void after installation of software by the user. This must be true for manufacturers warranty as well as the one from your provider.
‘computer-like’ devices, and therefore affected by this law, are all information-processing devices whose operating system basically allows to install additional software. Not included should be devices for industrial or security purposes as well as devices that can physically harm someone, eg. cars or kitchen inventory.
These days, this could be a pathbreaking proposal concerning consumer protection and user rights. Actually, the content of this amendment comes pretty close to demands, that are also part of FSFE’s FreeYourAndroid campaign. If this amendment would be passed as law one day, it would also support FSFE’s efforts to get rid of Digital Restrictions Management and would be an answer to arising problems imposed by Secure Boot Systems. Nowadays, the right to unlock your device and further install your favorite Free Software, can be seen as the only way to access full and sole control over your own device. The obligation, to provide an easy possibility to unlock your device would encourage and help many users to do so. Especially, as unlocking your device – depending on the model – can become a hard job today or even impossible. As it is to fear, that manufacturers and service providers will try to further restrict our user and consumer rights, the time has come to ask our politicians to take care of them.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, this amendment was not discussed due to the lack of time and the order in which all amendments were arranged. Hence, I hope it will be confirmed at the following federal party convent. Until then, I would like to encourage all members of political parties in Europe, to engage for a similiar statement or manifesto in your own party. Let’s get rid of further restrictions on general purpose computing and put the user in full control of his hardware.