More and more Internet Service Providers (ISPs) deny their users to use the router/firewall software of their own choice. They require them to use the routers they send you when you order your Internet connection. This violates essential principles of net neutrality, which we think needs to be preserved, but there are also other reasons why you won’t want to use this hardware and why you should oppose this development:

Most importantly, you cannot use a device of a vendor you trust any more. ISPs want to make money, so they send you cheap hardware, which is often not maintained at all and there are lots of security issues which are never fixed. If your ISP does not grant you access to manage you router, you cannot even deploy a workaround. By law, you are personally responsible for any damage to other people that originates from your home network (Störerhaftung).

Or you could be forced to buy an other box for telephony or other tasks, which could already be well performed by your router. If you change contracts, you (may) get an new router, even if the old one still works fine. We already have enough garbage in our world and there is very good software out there which is able to provide lots of nice features even with inexpensive and efficient hardware.

Many people trust in free software, which is why we need to protect our freedom to use our router of choice!

The situation right now

ISPs don’t only prevent you from using your own router by agreement. They don’t disclose the essential dial-in credentials, so you cannot configure any other device. I already wrote a little post about that in January.

As we can all easily see, this is just the next principle of net neutrality that is violated by the ISPs. The goal is to get control over hardware inside the people’s houses, to control and spy on them. When your ISP manages your router, you cannot always be sure that they do that in your own interest, because they have interests, too…

What to do?

The Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency) is currently calling for comments on four proposed solutions. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), together with Mirko Vogt from OpenWRT is preparing a statement from the Open Source community’s point of view.

I would like to raise your awareness about this topic and encourage you to participate in writing this statement and joining the movement against abandoning net neutrality.

There is a public pad open until October 20 where you can help answering the questions from Bundesnetzagentur. Please add your experience with what router/modem hardware your ISP sent you and hopefully, Matthias Kirschner from FSFE is able to use your information, ideas and input to create a proper statement, which will change the Bundesnetzagentur’s opinion.

Sorry, that this is (again) a post targeted to our users from Germany. Please check if there is a similar development in your country and find out if there is an organization which is fighting against it, you can support!