From the EFF – 12 Trends to Watch in 2010

From the EFF – 12 Trends to Watch in 2010, Tim Jones writes –

It’s the dawn of a new year. From our perch on the frontier of electronic civil liberties, EFF has collected a list of a dozen important trends in law, technology and business that we think will play a significant role in shaping online rights in 2010. In December, we’ll revisit this post and see how it all worked out.


4. Hardware Hacking: Opening Closed Platforms and Devices

An increasingly active hobbyist community is figuring out how to make a range of devices more useful and open. They are learning how to install new software or make third-party parts, devices, and services work with proprietary high-tech products like video game consoles, printers, portable audio players, home entertainment devices, e-book readers, mobile phones, digital cameras, and even programmable calculators. And, oh yes, contending with restrictions on both cars and garage doors.

Frequently, indignant manufacturers are threatening these tinkerers with legal troubles. Often, these threats are legally baseless — but this hasn’t stopped manufacturers from bullying hobbyists into keeping quiet about their innovations.

It confirms the prediction that EFF board member Ed Felten made in 2006: that the rationale offered for “Digital Rights Management” was shifting away from hard-to-defend claims that DRM could stop copyright infringement, and toward uses of DRM to control the functionality of objects in general (often in ways only tenuously connected to copying anything).

In 2009, EFF asked the Copyright Office to protect hobbyists who unlock and jailbreak their smartphones, and we stood up for developers who figured out how to load new operating systems onto TI programmable calculators. EFF’s panel of judges also chose to honor Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries with a Pioneer Award in part to encourage the hardware hacking community to continue their good work.

In 2010, phone jailbreaking will become even more mainstream, and the concept will be routinely applied to other sorts of devices. EFF’s Coders Rights Project will have no shortage of work to do defending users and developers who want to make their hardware do more than it was designed for.

Ok makers, post up your top trends to watch in 2010 in the comments!

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