> But we know they do, we even detect certain revisions or features of the firmware and behave accordingly.
That's kind of fine as far as the kernel is concerned: it's not inducing users to install or accept it, just assuming the user has accepted it.
It's completely unlike *asking* the user to install (or update an EEPROM) firmware.
Because, again, the point is not to *prevent* people from using non-Free Software, it's to avoid *inducing* them to do so.
It might make sense to add a run-time option to the kernel for drivers that somehow detect or know about non-Free firmware in devices they drive to fail, issue a warning or silently proceed depending on how the option is set. Do you have other examples of such drivers?