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Hardware we all want: FSF announces criteria for hardware endorsement program "Respects Your Freedom"

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BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, October 14, 2010 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced today that it has published an initial set of criteria for endorsing computers and other devices. The FSF seeks both to obtain feedback on the criteria, and raise interest in the program among hardware manufacturers. Ultimately, the FSF plans to promote an endorsement mark to be carried on products that meet the criteria: respects your freedom.

"The desire to own a computer or device and have full control over it, to
know that you are not being spied on or tracked, to run any software you
wish without asking permission, and to share with friends without worrying
about Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) -- these are the desires of
millions of people who care about the future of technology and our
society. Unfortunately, hardware manufacturers have until now relied on
close cooperation with proprietary software companies that demanded
control over their users. As citizens and their customers, we need to
promote our desires for a new class of hardware -- hardware that anyone
can support because it respects your freedom," said Peter Brown, executive
director of the FSF.

The FSF's criteria seek to cover all aspects of user interaction with and
control of a device: they say the hardware must run free software on every
layer that is user upgradeable, allow the user to modify that software,
support free data formats, be fully usable with free tools, and more.

FSF license compliance engineer Brett Smith said, "Every software
component needed to produce endorsable hardware is now available. We have
several GNU/Linux distributions that only include free software, and are
completely functional on the right hardware. We have the LinuxLibre kernel
that does not include nonfree microcode. And we have cutting edge mobile
platforms like Android and MeeGo that are based on free software. In the
past we've spoken to manufacturers who were interested in making free
software-friendly hardware, but they worried about connecting with
customers. With our endorsement mark and the strong criteria that back it,
we plan to bridge that gap and demonstrate to manufacturers that they
stand to gain plenty by making hardware that respects people's freedom
instead of curtailing it."

The initial set of guidelines are available on the LibrePlanet wiki, at
http://libreplanet.org/wiki/Hardware/Endorsement_criteria. The FSF
welcomes contributions on the wiki discussion page, including suggestions
for improvements to the criteria, and ideas and art submissions for an
endorsement mark.

Hardware manufacturers interested in endorsement should contact
licensing@fsf.org.

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