Liberate devices to maintain software autonomy

The manufacturer of an electronic device does not need a monopoly to deliver a good product. Separate the copyrights between hardware and software to maintain an open market on existing and new devices.

How it works

Why software autonomy?

Electronic devices like Apple's iPhone, the Oculus Quest 2 and countless IoT devices do not allow you to uninstall any software without the vendor's permission. These walled gardens often contain software that monitors your usage of the device.

Sometimes, hobbyists and developers create "jailbreaks" which frees the device from the company's grasp and let you use your product without getting spied on. Most of these jailbreaks never see the light of day, however, because their creators fear getting sued by an army of lawyers from big tech companies like Facebook.

How can we fix this?

Jailbreaks should be protected by the law so that devices like the smartphone remain an open market and users always have an option that respects their privacy.

There are already a lot of jailbreaks legal in many countries for lots of devices,but companies like Apple still forbid jailbreaks in their terms of service and sue jailbreakers for infringing copyrights. This effectively shuts down a lot of jailbreaking, and can be fought by the acknowledgement that a jailbreak respects copyright laws.

Read more

Oculus Quest 2

A typical example would be Facebook's Oculus Quest 2, which doesn't allow you to use the VR headset without using a Facebook account and can even remotely prohibit you from using your own device, which means you cannot use the headset privately. (The alternative exists to buy a separate and significantly more expensive headset.)

There are several rumours that jailbreaks have been built, and the non-profit organisation Extended Reality Safety Initiative (XRSI in short) has validated a jailbreak, but many jailbreakers are hesitant to publish their work, fearing that an army of Facebook lawyers may harm their career.

This is how little you own your iPhone 13

The Apple iPhone 13 has installed several software measurements that prevent you from repairing your own phone: if you replace a part with another, even if it's an actual Apple part, the phone malfunctions in several ways.

This phone does not feel like you actually own it when you buy it.

Getting stalked by a multinational for tinkering

We know that companies go to extreme measures to protect their intellectual property - and to keep a monopoly if possible. Near the end of 2020, a large amount of information was leaked from the company Nintendo, who is known for building game consoles that are difficult to jailbreak.

Among other resources, the leak also contained documents that showed Nintendo systematically tracked potential hackers to stalk and threaten them before they can share any information that could help people jailbreak their Nintendo devices.

A haunting example is that of the internet user called Neimod. The company had allegedly sent private investigators to stalk the user and monitor their off- and online behaviour when the company discovered that Neimod had found a way to directly access the memory of a Nintendo 3DS.

The full document can be found here. The report contains their (full) name, where they live, their usual weekly behaviour and a fully worked out plan on how to approach the hacker.

It was already clear that Neimod's work wasn't for piracy purposes, yet they were still being shadowed. Their work didn't breach intellectual property rights, yet they were threatened that they'd broken Belgian legislature. By granting users full software autonomy, we can prevent this from happening again.