Building a new totally free phone

Norayr Chilingarian norayr at
Fri Aug 23 14:50:58 CEST 2013

Nick, you raised very good questions.

I believe, that we don't need GSM at all. I don't use it for two years 
When we use GSM we use carrier services. Can we be sure that carrier does 
not track us, don't record our calls etc?
For instance, in my country "secret service" has direct access to the 
carrier's switches, and can follow calls of any person in real time. They 
also can write a paper and request this or that person's locations from 
the carrier.

We don't use gmail, because we know they are watching us, then why do we 
use carriers?

The way to be secure is to use trusted service providers, and carriers are 
too big to be trusted.

However we can use own SIP or XMPP servers, we can create small community 
servers where we trust our service providers. And use them for chat/talk. 
Should I mention that we use encryption, in both cases - server to server, 
and client to server.

Here we have connectivity problem. Okay, everybody has a wifi at home (or 
may have). But what if you would like to call someone from the forest?

Here what we can do: get an Internet only tariff, use it for making 
calls/chat etc.
But our location still can be tracked if the carrier requires you to 
identiy yourself when buying a sim card. Here we can do nothing except may 
be mass exchange of sim cards with random people. Like make an action, 
when 1000 people goes to get a card, and then they all exchange cards with 
people they don't even know and won't see most probably in the future.

This also has another plus: why pay for each sms? We can chat in internet 
as long as we wish.

sent with alpine

On Fri, 23 Aug 2013, Nick wrote:

> Your free phone idea appeals to me enormously, Michael. And I,
> (unlike I suspect some others on the list) very much like your
> framing of the issues, too. I fully support the idea that if a law
> makes private conversation illegal, it is a bad law, and regulatory
> blocks on GSM that forbid inspectable and modifiable cannot but be
> such.
> However, can GSM really be a base for secure communication anyway?
> I've heard that the encryption used is really crappy, and while some
> things like MITM forced reregistration to disable encryption and
> ease surveillance could be countered by appropriate phone settings,
> if the best encryption algorithm available can be cracked by a home
> PC in a few days, you're still screwed.
> A truly free phone is a worthy and very important thing for other
> reasons, but could such a thing be strongly secure too? Or is the
> only solution there to rely on something like ZRTP in voip, and give
> up wishing that GSM could provide security?
> I've always been somewhat vague about how modems and their
> processors interact with other parts of a system. Am I correct in
> thinking that once the first firmware part of your project was
> complete, one could flash load that the GTA02 modem, and have a (far
> more 'smart' and Linux-y than you're ultimately planning) free
> openmoko phone? Or would the modem firmware have to be programmed
> differently for the GTA02 compared to your feature phone? While I am
> more interested in a feature phone than a 'smart' phone, I would be
> very happy to have a really free modem firmware on my GTA02 in the
> meantime.
> It's interesting to think of the meanings of 'free' in your message.
> Because one of the nice things of free software traditionally has
> been the ability to say "it's free software, so I can do what I like
> with it, and you can't invoke state violence against me for doing
> so," due to a careful 'respect' of the copyrights of people who
> don't want their stuff to be free. While regulatory reigimes
> seemingly make this impossible anyway with GSM, I don't relish the
> idea of essentially giving more power to other people to wield the
> law against the project or its' users. But I understand that writing
> a firmware from scratch for something like the Calypso would be a
> massive amount of work, and I would rather have a reusable and
> inspectable firmware that breaks copyright law, than none at all,
> particularly for something as directly dangerous to one's security
> as a phone.
> With this in mind, I do wonder why the OsmocomBB work isn't
> appropriate as a base for your work? Can you explain this a bit more
> why it isn't? Is it just that they are quite a long way from
> producing a complete firmware for a phone?
>> And because it is so totally incomprehensible to my mind how someone
>> can be like you, and be able to live with yourself while watching
>> someone else's life wither away because of your selfishness, I find
>> myself at a complete loss as to how one should interact with people
>> like you.
> I do think you need to be more careful, kind, and forgiving of
> perceived differences, when speaking to others in the community.
> We're all in a similar position here, working towards helping people
> communicate freely. Sure, people have different things they will
> compromise in order to try to effect this, but ultimately I find it
> hard to believe that anybody in the openmoko community isn't here in
> large part because of their wish to see people able to freely
> communicate.
> It's fine and healthy to not always agree with others about what
> compromises are appropriate, and to argue to try to figure out what
> the best course of action is, but it is unjust to assume malice,
> and saying what I've quoted above (regardless of how true it may feel)
> is likely to just turn people off to you. We need all the solidarity
> we can muster, and we need to celebrate the work people are doing,
> and try to respect them, and their differences. Even - nay,
> especially - if there are major differences that you can't
> understand.
> I look forward very much to hearing your progress with your project.
> If there's something I as an enthusiastic but comparitively ignorant
> volunteer can do to help, let me know!
> Nick
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