[Freedom-misc] Mobile Devices Respecting Software Freedom (follow-up)

strypey at disintermedia.net.nz strypey at disintermedia.net.nz
Thu Sep 20 08:55:12 CEST 2018

 > What do you think?

I think we all agree that the long-term goal is a touchscreen device with a  
100% free code mobile OS (alway-on, with all day battery life), using  
hardware that can be used to its full capacity with no non-free software of  
any kind. Ideally based on free hardware designs.

Despite the criticisms folks here make of Purism, I think their Librem 5 will  
be the closest we've got to this so far. Hopefully progress will continue.

In the meantime, push-button "feature phones" are super cheap. While I was in  
the UK I got one for 5 pounds (about US$6.50) just to use there. It's totally  
affordable to own one of these for texts (SMS) and voice calls over the cell  
network, and have a separate mobile device with no cell modem (a small  
tablet), or with the cell modem air-gapped or disabled.

However, I now realize using the net on a mobile device over WiFi creates  
exactly the same risks as using it over the cell modem, and this will be the  
case until there are mobile devices on the market that have WiFi that works  
without non-free firmware. For now, nothing is gained by having a separate  
device, unless I use Replicant and a WiFi dongle, which is impractical and  
defeats the purpose of having a small, easily portable device.

The faraday pouch doesn't help, because you can't be sure that the cell modem  
and/or WiFi firmware are not able to store records of what you've done while  
the device is in the pouch, and wait until it isn't in the pouch to phone  
home and send those records. Unless we have some way to know exactly what the  
non-free fireware in a mobile device does and doesn't do, it's very hard to  
come up with a practical work-around that doesn't devolve into generalized  
paranoia :(

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