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Several Bills Pop Up to Legalize Phone Unlocking
But Will Any of Them Survive The Lobbyist Gauntlet?
by Karl Bode 09:25AM Wednesday Mar 06 2013
Earlier this week the White House responded to complaints that cell phone unlocking is now illegal by effectively punting the problem to a bickering, often incompetent Congress and a timid FCC. With politicians hoping to ride popular sentiment, several bills have now been proposed to deal with the issue. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) have all either released or say they're working on bills to address the issue. Whether those bills get past carrier lobbyists (who want to retain device control to protect bloatware revenues and "consumer experience") and content industry lobbyists (who won't like the threat of a "weaker" DMCA) is of course another issue entirely. At least those politicians will get their name in lights -- which for most of them will be the entire purpose of the exercise.

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Metatron2008
Premium
join:2008-09-02
united state

Are any cell phone providers going to lobby against this?

Of all the things to lobby against, this seems like the most useless thing.
me1212

join:2008-11-20
Pleasant Hill, MO

Re: Are any cell phone providers going to lobby against this?

Last time(IIRC) the push was led by apple, not the cell phone providers(though I think some did get on board) so it could go ether way.
whoyourdaddy

join:2013-02-20
Honey Brook, PA

if you paid full price

you should be able to unlock your phone if you paid full price for the phone or finish your contract.and if they dont ask for the phone back after you cancle their service you should be able to unlock it..

JasonOD

@comcast.net

Carriers could monetize this...

By charging a fee to unlock a phone at the end of a contract period if a customer requests it.

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

Re: Carriers could monetize this...

Why? Technically, the phone is yours at the end of the contract period.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Carriers could monetize this...

Then unlock your device on your own.

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

Re: Carriers could monetize this...

said by openbox9:

Then unlock your device on your own.

But that's illegal now.. thanks to the carriers.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Carriers could monetize this...

So what's wrong with carriers charging a fee to unlock the device therefore making it "legal"? I doubt you seriously need to worry about being caught anyway if you can do it yourself. Of course all of this is avoided if you just purchase an unlocked device in the first place

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

Re: Carriers could monetize this...

Ya.. I'm going to buy a new device when my Captivate works perfectly fine all because at&t won't unlock it.

Sure.. I'll buy an unlocked Captivate because at&t is being assholes and won't let me switch to ST even though my out-of-contract one works great.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Carriers could monetize this...

said by Simba7:

Ya.. I'm going to buy a new device when my Captivate works perfectly fine all because at&t won't unlock it.

Then don't. You can still continue using it. You knew the limitation when you purchased the device.

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

Re: Carriers could monetize this...

said by openbox9:

You knew the limitation when you purchased the device.

Same could be said about your computer. You can only use a specific ISP and power company or your computer will not work.

How do we check if you're using a certain power company? We look at the signatures within the power signal. If they don't match, it doesn't turn on. If you try to change the power supply, the motherboard will sense this and refuse to turn on.

As for a certain ISP, it's hardcoded on your motherboard. When you plug it into your network, it will ping the specific ISP with a certain amount of bits. If the return bits don't match, you're not getting online.
--
Bresnan 30M/5M | CenturyLink 5M/896K
MyWS[PnmIIX3@3.2G,8G RAM,500G+1.5T+2T HDDs,Win7]
WifeWS[A64@2G,2G RAM,120G HDD,Win7]
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openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Carriers could monetize this...

said by Simba7:

Same could be said about your computer. You can only use a specific ISP and power company or your computer will not work.

But my computers aren't restricted in this manner and I knew that when I purchased them.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
Just ignore the DMCA. Unlocking your phone is like doing 55.1mph in a 55. You wont get caught and nobody will care.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA

Legal challenge

I wonder if a legal challenge in court could be used to legalize phone unlocking since a carrier lock may not meet the definition of creative content under the DMCA.

Any lawyers on this forum that could answer that question.
ArizonaSteve

join:2004-01-31
Apache Junction, AZ
Reviews:
·voip.ms
·CenturyLink
·T-Mobile US

Re: Legal challenge

Since unlocking is just unchecking a box that keeps you locked to the same carrier and there is no copyright or any software involved the DMCA really doesn't have anything to do with unlocking. I can't see any way they are even involved or how anyone can say it's illegal.

Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

Re: Legal challenge

And given that you are locked into your carrier via a contract (assuming you don't use a Pay-As-You-Go provider, of course), there's no reason not to unlock the phones. The worst case scenario for the carriers is that someone would buy the phone on subsidy and then break their contract to go to a different carrier. In that case, though, they would be charged a high ETF.

Cell phone locking shouldn't be covered under the DMCA because locking isn't meant to be a copyright protection mechanism. It is meant to be a business retention mechanism. (One that isn't needed as per the previous paragraph, but a mechanism intended to keep people at the carrier nonetheless.)
--
-Jason Levine
en103

join:2011-05-02

Re: Legal challenge

That may be true, but there are people that want to 'upgrade' their phone mid contract (for whatever reason - no I'm not one of them), and would like to sell/eBay their old phone. Being tied to a single carrier 'just because' is not acceptable.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast

Re: Legal challenge

said by en103:

That may be true, but there are people that want to 'upgrade' their phone mid contract (for whatever reason - no I'm not one of them), and would like to sell/eBay their old phone. Being tied to a single carrier 'just because' is not acceptable.

When I bought my iPhone 5, I used the Verizon trade in program to get a store credit for my iPhone 4. I think I got about $125 (can't remember the exact amount) but I considered it generous considering the age of the iPhone (upgraded to iPhone 5 in Dec 2012). I did the same when I bought my iPad 3, I used the VZW trade-in program for credit towards my new iPad.
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I have not and will not cut the cord.

djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO
said by ArizonaSteve:

Since unlocking is just unchecking a box that keeps you locked to the same carrier and there is no copyright or any software involved the DMCA really doesn't have anything to do with unlocking. I can't see any way they are even involved or how anyone can say it's illegal.

On the iPhone, you had to hack the phone, then hack the baseband to get it unlocked. What's worse, AT&T/Apple had no process in place to officially unlock them after you had finished your contract. That didn't come until relatively recently.

Legalizing unlocking seems like a bizarre way of solving this problem. Why not just ban the locking of phones? As others have noted, the contract ensures the carrier gets their money anyway.

--
AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011
Rethink Billable.
en103

join:2011-05-02

Re: Legal challenge

True - and the current 'activation' requires that you activate your phone or pay retail.
I could see some people wanting to just resell the devices as 'new' and unlocked. This would water down carriers ability to charge full price.

MovieLover76

join:2009-09-11
kudos:1

Surprized

This is way more of a response than I expected to that We the People petition. Guess low hanging fruit is a easy win for hated congress.
Rekrul

join:2007-04-21
Milford, CT

...

The whole CMCA anti-circumvention clause needs to go. People should be free to modify the things that they buy.
whoyourdaddy

join:2013-02-20
Honey Brook, PA

Re: ...

yea like the xbox 360 just for opening the xbox will get it perm ban from xbox live
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: ...

or putting in your OWN HDD so you are not paying MS $129.99 for a 320GB HDD
kevinds
Premium
join:2003-05-01
Calgary, AB
kudos:3
I opened my Xbox year and a half ago, to take two broken consoles into one working one. There is no ban, unless you are caught changing things you know you are not supposed to...
--
Yes, I am not employed and looking for IT work. Have passport, will travel.

txpatriot

@texas.gov

We should support this

Instead of bickering about what the DMCA should be, or why its broken, or a million other issues, why not get behind one of these bills that will hopefully fix the problem?

Here's a chance to actually do something constructive, but dslr readers would still prefer to bicker about god knows what!
Chubbysumo

join:2009-12-01
Superior, WI
Reviews:
·Charter

Lets ignore the big issues

This is a typical look left go right. The white house and congress only responded to take the debate away from the larger issues like the massive budget that needs to be put under control, and the large amount of government spying on its own citizens in fear of being usurped by an angry public, ect, ect. This is a non-issue, since those that are going to unlock still will, and since the fine is only issued if you get caught, which is highly unlikely, this is a "people pleaser" bill. It makes the people happy, and distracts you from the real issues that need to be dealt with.
old_wiz_60

join:2005-06-03
Bedford, MA

Not a chance..

the carriers own enough people in the right places to make sure this doesn't happen.