One of those things that irks me about the FCC regulations is that manufacturers are responsible for preventing, and can apparently be held liable for, end-user modifications to wireless radio devices under 47 CFR Part 15, Subpart C:
- 47 CFR § 15.203:
An intentional radiator shall be designed to ensure that no antenna other than that furnished by the responsible party shall be used with the device. The use of a permanently attached antenna or of an antenna that uses a unique coupling to the intentional radiator shall be considered sufficient to comply with the provisions of this section. The manufacturer may design the unit so that a broken antenna can be replaced by the user, but the use of a standard antenna jack or electrical connector is prohibited. [...]
- 47 CFR § 15.212(a)(2)(iv):
Manufacturers must ensure that only transmitter control elements and radio front end components that have been approved together are capable of operating together. The transmitter module must not operate unless it has verified that the installed transmitter control elements and radio front end have been authorized together. Manufacturers may use means including, but not limited to, coding in hardware and electronic signatures in software to meet these requirements, and must describe the methods in their application for equipment authorization.
As a result, manufacturers are forced to actively design wireless radio devices to prevent unauthorized end-user modifications:
- The RP-TNC connector used for Wi-Fi antennas was originally meant to be a nonstandard connector to prevent consumers from replacing antennas with those not approved by the manufacturer. The connector ultimately gained widespread use; however, the FCC has not taken action against device manufacturers.
- Major laptop manufacturers, including Dell, HP, and Lenovo, restrict the specific Wi-Fi cards which may be installed into a particular system through the use of "whitelists" in system firmware that specify which card models are allowed. If a Wi-Fi card that isn't on the whitelist is installed, the system will not boot.
Why hold the manufacturer responsible for preventing end-users from making modifications? What is the philosophy or historical basis for these rules? (To prevent this question from being too opinion-based, I'd like to see answers that cite relevant documentation such as rulemaking reports.)