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Petition to Legalize Phone Unlocking Awaits White House Response
Though That Response May Not Amount to Much...
by Karl Bode 02:17PM Friday Feb 22 2013
In late January, unlocking your cellphone technically became illegal after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list last year. Technically it remains legal for you to jailbreak your phone, but it isn't legal to unlock your phone unless you get your carrier's permission first. If you think that sounds idiotic you're not alone; a petition was formed on the White House website aimed at making unlocking cell phones legal again, and as of this week it received the 100,000 signatures necessary to get a mandatory White House response. Of course as Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes, the White House can respond by pointing two the idiotic exemption process and urging people to wait three years for new exemptions.

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SunnyD

join:2009-03-20
Madison, AL

2 recommendations

The current expected response...

will be to increase the threshold for responding to petitions again.

nothing00

join:2001-06-10
Centereach, NY

Re: The current expected response...

The petition would have made a lot more sense if it read:

"Make it illegal to LOCK cell phones to a particular carrier."

There's just no justification for it except as a parting "f-u" from the cell company should you decide to use a different provider.
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC

Re: The current expected response...

It's the same purpose as the early termination fee. The DMCA is horrible here; Property rights should be absolute here.

plencnerb
Premium
join:2000-09-25
Carpentersville, IL
kudos:3

Re: The current expected response...

Exactly. If I was to buy a Dell laptop that came with Windows 8, and I wanted to format the hard drive and install Linux on it, I have every right to do so.

If I purchase a phone, and want to take the OS / software that is on it, and replace it with another version, I should have the same right.

A phone is a piece of hardware that runs software. Once I purchase said hardware, I should be allowed to make whatever changes I want to it.

If that is how cell phone companies see it, then they should call Dell, Lenovo, and HP up, and get them to arrest and levy heavy fines on all the users who bought said computers only to format and install their OS of choice.

--Brian
--
============================
--Brian Plencner

E-Mail: CoasterBrian72Cancer@gmail.com
Note: Kill Cancer to Reply via e-mail

sivran
Seamonkey's back
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1

Re: The current expected response...

Sure.

If you don't mind paying upwards of 600$ for the phone instead of 50-100.

FLATLINE

join:2007-02-27
Buffalo, NY

Re: The current expected response...

Nexus 4 Pure Android for $299
raythompsontn

join:2001-01-11
Oliver Springs, TN
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by sivran:

If you don't mind paying upwards of 600$ for the phone instead of 50-100.

Over the course of a two year contract you will almost pay twice what the phone is worth. A reduced price phone on a contract is nothing more than a rent to own. You will eventually own the device but you have paid a lot more for the device.

Do the math using a service such as Straighttalk. $45.00 a month vs Verizon at $100.00 a month. You are paying $55.00 more a month with Verizon. The cost of the phone is $299.00 at Verizon, $749.00 at an Apple store for the Iphone 5, 32 gig. Price difference is $450.00. That is 10 months of the contract. So for the remaining 14 months on the contract you pay $55.00 a month for nothing. That amounts to $770.00 additional that you paid, more than the price of a new phone.

A glorious waste of money.

sivran
Seamonkey's back
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1

Re: The current expected response...

Now if only people might realize that.

I'm on prepaid and paid full price for my phone. I can however do what I want with it.
--
Think Outside the Fox.

PeeWee
Premium
join:2001-10-21
Madera, CA
Rooting your phone is not unlocking it. after root you still will not be able to take your phone to a different carrier. Two different things.
--
Iphone. Helping computer illiteracy become popular since 2007

plencnerb
Premium
join:2000-09-25
Carpentersville, IL
kudos:3

Re: The current expected response...

This is why I'll never have more then just a "standard cell phone" that just does talk. (Like a trackphone).

I guess I see that they should be like a TV, or a desktop/laptop. If I buy a TV, it does not matter if I hook it up to an OTA signal, Direct TV, Dish, Comcast, Time Warner, or whoever. Its a TV, and everything inside works with any provider, regardless of who made the TV, and regardless of my provider of the service.

With a Desktop or Laptop, I can install whatever parts I want. If its a Dell Desktop, I can use a Maxtor Hard Drive, GeForce Video card, etc. It does not have to be Dell parts. I can install Windows XP, Windows 8, Linux, OS-X, etc and it does not matter. I can take the same desktop or laptop, and use it to connect to the internet with Cablevision, FIOS, Verizon DSL, AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Brighthouse, whoever. Does not matter. I know in all of these, its the cable modem or DSL Modem that make the connection, but I think you get my point here.

Again, its a device that you can purchase, and use. If I want to take the phone and use it on the Sprint Network, or the T-Mobile network, or the Nextel Network, or the AT&T Network, I should be allowed to do so, using the same logic that I made above in regards to TV's and Computers.

Back to the TV again, it would be like telling me that if I bought a TV from LG, I could only watch CBS and HBO, and not the History Channel, as that TV is not "Approved" to be used to view content on the "History Channel Network".

--Brian
--
============================
--Brian Plencner

E-Mail: CoasterBrian72Cancer@gmail.com
Note: Kill Cancer to Reply via e-mail

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
So you do really want to make it that cell phones become rental-only, similar to cable boxes. I relish the opportunity to rent a phone for a mandatory $25+ each month.
TechnoGeek

join:2013-01-07

Newsflash: You already are

You don't "own" the software on the phone, it's just a perpetual lease.

Check the EULA on any proprietary piece of software.

Yes, it's completely stupid.

Lagz
Premium
join:2000-09-03
The Rock

Re: Newsflash: You already are

said by TechnoGeek:

You don't "own" the software on the phone, it's just a perpetual lease.

Check the EULA on any proprietary piece of software.

Yes, it's completely stupid.

That's why you remove the software that's on the device and install something else that allows you to do so(GPL).
--
When somebody tells you nothing is impossible, ask him to dribble a football.

shimonmor
Premium
join:2000-12-30
Sedro Woolley, WA

Petitions vs Lobbyists

I don't think a petition will be able to compete with lobbyists. Which is why the whole lobby system needs to go away. How can the voice of the average citizen be heard? We have no method of competing for our representatives attention with lobbyists.

FLATLINE

join:2007-02-27
Buffalo, NY

Re: Petitions vs Lobbyists

Yeah buddy because that's all this is about! A petition. Lmao whatever. Lobbyists are like advertising. It only works if everything else falls Into place. The main thing they will need in the end is the support of the consumer/citizen. This can all be overturned.

On a another note. Too Fin bad. My phone I'll do what I want with it.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

The president can't do anything here

What the people who wrote this petition don't seem to understand is that the president can't do a thing here. Congress designated the Librarian of Congress as the only person who can grant DMCA exemptions, and the president has no authority over that person.

The petition is a nice gesture, but it's utterly misguided.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 edit

Re: The president can't do anything here

said by ISurfTooMuch:

What the people who wrote this petition don't seem to understand is that the president can't do a thing here. Congress designated the Librarian of Congress as the only person who can grant DMCA exemptions, and the president has no authority over that person.

The petition is a nice gesture, but it's utterly misguided.

The President can do things. He may not be able to ORDER the Librarian of Congress to change his decision. But The Librarian of Congress is an appointed position and is appointed by the President(with Senate confirmation). And he can be FIRED by the President. It isn't like a Supreme Court appointment where he has the job for life. So yes, Obama can exert significant influence over the decision.
--
I will be perfectly happy if the budget cuts specified in the Budget Control Act go into effect. 3 cheers for the sequester. Take the money from the drunken federal spenders.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: The president can't do anything here

Perhaps, but there are several complications. First, nothing at all can happen for the next three years, since the window for exemptions has closed until that time. Second, I wonder how the cell phone companies would respond if it appeared that the president pressured the Librarian of Congress to make the exemption. I could certainly see them suing on the grounds that undue pressure was applied to force the exemption. I'm not saying they'd win, but they'd probably muddy the water for a few additional years. And, after all this, any exemption granted would potentially go away after three years.

The real solution is to change the stupid law, and that requires that pressure be put on Congress. And the issue there is that people, overall, won't or can't come together in any meaningful way to apply pressure. The Christian Right has been pretty effective over the last few decades, and that's because, by and large, they've focused like a laser on what they want and aren't afraid to go after politicians who defy them. Until people who want a sane approach to technology, patents, civil liberties, etc. are willing to get organized and be just as ferocious as these religious groups have been, they'll continue to lose these fights.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: The president can't do anything here

Congress can change anything especially concerning a group that they created to offload their workload to.

If they want to make it legal to unlock a phone, then they can make it legal and they can do this regardless of what the Library of Congress does or says.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: The president can't do anything here

Congress can, but the president can't, at least not directly. In fact, even the Librarian of Congress can't for the next three years.

So basically, if you want this changed in the next three years, Congress is the only option. Well, you could sue on the grounds that the DMCA was never intended to cover phone unlocking, but that will take a while to wind through the court system.

nonamesleft

join:2011-11-07
Manitowoc, WI
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Callcentric
said by ISurfTooMuch:

What the people who wrote this petition don't seem to understand is that the president can't do a thing here. Congress designated the Librarian of Congress as the only person who can grant DMCA exemptions, and the president has no authority over that person.

The petition is a nice gesture, but it's utterly misguided.

Sure he can, he abuses the hell out of executive orders. I am thinking about creating a petition to ban executive orders, and nullify all of them too.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
Actually the president could do something else though and simply order the justice department to not allow prosecution of anybody unlocking phones or those making the software to unlock them.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports
westdc

join:2009-01-25
Amissville, VA
kudos:1

That's going to be a

Long Wait!!!

Lone Wolf
Retired
Premium
join:2001-12-30
USA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Online DSL

Dumb Law

I haven't bought a phone from a carrier in many years so this doesn't affect me. The petition is dumb too.

Buy a phone from Plemix, MobileCity, Negri, etc and don't worry about this stupid law. The carriers in the US have you by the cajones when you get your phone from them. Europeans have been buying unlocked phones for years but the folks in the US haven't wised up yet.

PapaMidnight

join:2009-01-13
Baltimore, MD

Who says the White House will actually answer?

I'm just saying, but this petition is still awaiting an answer

elios

join:2005-11-15
Springfield, MO

Re: Who says the White House will actually answer?

wow really may of last year and nothing yet they take the time to reply to some bullshit one about building a "deathstar"

so much fail

PapaMidnight

join:2009-01-13
Baltimore, MD

Re: Who says the White House will actually answer?

said by elios:

wow really may of last year and nothing yet they take the time to reply to some bullshit one about building a "deathstar"

so much fail

My point exactly.

PapaMidnight

join:2009-01-13
Baltimore, MD

Re: Who says the White House will actually answer?

said by PapaMidnight:

said by elios:

wow really may of last year and nothing yet they take the time to reply to some bullshit one about building a "deathstar"

so much fail

My point exactly.

My goodness, we actually got a response to this one and the present one.
LocutusBorg
Premium
join:2005-12-25
Revere, MA

losers

love them telling me what i can do with something i own. NOT
i unlock every phone i get and have done 15-20 for friends since it became "illegal"
i dare them to come get me

Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1

If you go contract that is all they should need

I don't think locking a phone should be legal in the first place. If the customer agrees to a contract that is what should be binding not the phone itself.

If a phone is misappropriated (stolen) or lost it shouldn't be hard to track down if it goes back into use so again there is no need to lock it.

Even if a phone is locked IMO it shouldn't be permanent. In other words it should have to be re-locked on a monthly or weekly bases for the period of a contract rather than having to go through any effort to unlock.
WhatNow
Premium
join:2009-05-06
Charlotte, NC
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: If you go contract that is all they should need

That is what will bring this to a head. If a carrier will not unlock a phone at the end of a contract. They have their contract to hold you too why does it matter if you go to another carrier and don't use their network.
Has anybody heard if any carrier is refusing to unlock the phone when the contract is up?
The only people that may need to unlock it before is if they go overseas.
Maggs
Premium
join:2002-11-29
Woodside, NY

You mean...

pointing to..., not pointing two.
--
Yes, ladies I am single.
jeff17

join:2000-12-11
US

ha

Great. Petitions always work.