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[libreplanet-discuss] RYF certification permits binary blobs?

From: Michael Lamb
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] RYF certification permits binary blobs?
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 2015 03:39:56 -0500

While investigating the issues around binary blobs and the C.H.I.P.
computer, and from reading your thoughtful and informative replies, I
was surprised to find this text in the Respects Your Freedom hardware
certification requirements:

"All the product software must be free software. [...] However, there
is an exception for secondary embedded processors. The exception
applies to [...] firmware built into an I/O device [...] The software
in such secondary processors does not count as product software." --

This seems to say that, for example, even though the Realtek RTL8723BS
WiFi + Bluetooth chip requires a non-free binary blob firmware to
operate (with an otherwise free software device driver), a computer
that employs that chip could still be granted the R.Y.F.

Surely, my interpretation is incorrect. Such a computer would not
Respect Your Freedom. Would someone who knows more about the RYF
certification and the rationale behind that language please explain
why my interpretation is wrong? (Or, point me to where this has been
discussed before? I searched unsuccessfully.)

What is the rationale behind this exemption? Couldn't a manufacturer
of a device encroach upon your freedom by building secret
remote-control features into the firmware of their device? Or by
unknowingly including a bug in their binary blob, that the user then
has no means to repair themselves after the manufacturer stops caring?

Perhaps "firmware embedded in an I/O device" refers only to firmware
that is burnt into ROM and is irreplaceable without replacing the
whole device itself?

Thanks in advance!

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