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What You Can Do About the Phone Unlocking Fiasco 416

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-to-the-people dept.
itwbennett writes "Now that the ridiculous phone unlocking law is a done deal, and we all understand exactly what that means (i.e., 'fines of up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to five years'), you might be left wondering what can you do about it. Well, you could start by lending your John Hancock to this petition at the White House's 'We The People' platform. It's already over halfway to the number of signatures required to get a response from the executive branch."
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What You Can Do About the Phone Unlocking Fiasco

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  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:39AM (#42747441) Journal

    ...seriously - even if it got 500,000 signatures, I doubt the White house will do a damned thing about it. The law would have to be reversed by Congress, and right now, even if Obama wanted to, he's going to save his political capital for those fights which advance his own goals

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:40AM (#42747445)

      What if Obama's iPhone 5S platinum plus edition is locked to AT&T, but he wants to use BOOST MOBILE? Then this would be a fight which advances his own goals.

      • The man rakes in way north of $400k a year from just his paycheck and subsequent pension... do you seriously think he's going to quibble over a $300 ETF?

        • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:35AM (#42748279) Journal

          Yes, that phone unlocking law is totally ridiculous.

          That law suits North Korea much better than it does in America.

          But the fact that this has happened in the United States of America says a lot about how the Americans themselves have changed.

          It used to be that the congress critters were afraid of their constituents.

          It used to be that those living inside (and the surrounding area) of Washington D.C. have to listen to the people living outside of that area.

          No more.

          Nowadays we have ridiculous laws being passed, without even a single objection from the public.

          Nowadays the Americans are so complacent, that the congress (and the White House) get to do anything that they want to do, because they are not afraid of their constituents anymore.

          The death of Mr. Aaron Swartz should not have happened in America.

          America supposed to be a country where abusive officials do not get any foothole.

          In fact, the birth of the United States of America was because the British government got too abusive, so much so that the people rose up and chased out the Brits.

          I used to live in America in the 1960's till early 2000's, and I've witnessed the change myself.

          Americans no longer care for freedom.

          Americans no longer willing to fight for liberty.

          In other words, America has withered.

          Can someone please change the wording of the American national anthem ?

          The one about "Land of the Free", "Home of the Brave", in more ways than one, no longer apply.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:27AM (#42749155)

            Congress isn't afraid of the people any more because they've learned how to control them better. Distract the masses with things like immigration reform, gay rights, abortion, things that get people excited. Then while everyone is screaming about those things, pass laws that screw over the common person. That's why I don't think they'll ever resolve the distraction issues. They need them in the news, unresolved, to keep the attention elsewhere.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            In fact, the birth of the United States of America was because the British government got too abusive, so much so that the people rose up and chased out the Brits.

            They didn't "chase out" the British. They met them on the battlefield and killed them.

            Our ancestors killed the Indians, killed the Spanish, killed the Mexicans. Today, we aren't willing to kill anybody for anything. Why on earth should congressmen be afraid? We're pussies.

          • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @07:38AM (#42749461)

            Americans no longer care for freedom. Americans no longer willing to fight for liberty. In other words, America has withered.

            How about we not engage in hyperbole like this. It makes people who aren't already convinced of it that the point you're trying to make is insane, and it becomes cyclical reasoning as well. And, it's not even true. "Ability to unlock your phone" isn't critical to what I'd call "freedom."

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by CaptainLard (1902452)
              Seriously. Most of the tyrannical aspects of america bemoaned on /. disappear if you chose to live your life in the same way as someone in say, the early 1990's. Which of course you are free to do. Yeah you still gotta deal with the TSA if you fly but if you don't use the internet or a cell phone, no corporation will be able to track you and you don't have to give up all your legal rights at every turn to do stuff. Its probably too much to give up for most of us at this point but it is still an option none-
        • The man rakes in way north of $400k a year from just his paycheck and subsequent pension... do you seriously think he's going to quibble over a $300 ETF?

          I thought your carrier could keep you from unlocking your phone (if they so chose) even after the termination of the contract. If a carrier isn't legally obligated to unlock your phone if you pay the ETF or let the contract expire -- and they decide they don't want to -- then unlocking it yourself would still be a case of breaking their DRM, right? And now that it's illegal for you to do it yourself, a company that was previously more "generous" might decide to get a little stingy just because they can.

      • by Nyder (754090)

        What if Obama's iPhone 5S platinum plus edition is locked to AT&T, but he wants to use BOOST MOBILE? Then this would be a fight which advances his own goals.

        If the President of the United States of America wants his phone unlocked, I don't see AT&T telling him no.

        • If the President of the United States of America wants his phone unlocked, I don't see AT&T telling him no.

          Why not? You don't have royalty or nobility in the USA, remember. Not like us in backward, Old World Britain.

          • by deoxyribonucleose (993319) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:43AM (#42748051)
            I wasn't aware that sucking up to the rich and mighty was exclusively predicated on hereditary feudalism. That's a relief. Let's everybody go tell their bosses exactly how we feel about them!
            • by Genda (560240)

              And then enjoy all that sudden new free time... you wanted to lose a little weight for 2013, boy have I got a plan for you!

          • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:50AM (#42748073)

            You don't have royalty or nobility in the USA, remember.

            Well, in earlier times, royalty was measured by how blue the contents of your veins was. Today, it's measured by how green the contents of your wallet is. The net result is pretty much the same. Sure, in theory the law treats you equally, but you really think that you are equal, with equal chances?

            • by gmuslera (3436)
              Is not exactly how green. In fact, is a data design flaw. Laws are coded using the personal data, and wealth is stored in a 24 bit integer. When the wealth field overflows, laws agrees on everything.
          • by DarkOx (621550) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @07:11AM (#42749321) Journal

            If some petty functionary in a law enforcement agency asks AT&T to do what under current rules is illegal wire tapping they don't blink. They will do whatever the president asks and Congress will just grant them retro-active immunity if there is any problem on their side. The President has already placed himself above the law time and time again and with his party having the majority in the Senate that is not going to be challenged. If Obutthead wants his phone unlocked it will be.

            The more interesting question is can congress even grant retroactive immunity? The president has the power of pardon so its clear that Bush or Obama could shielded AT&T in the wiretap cases but can Congress? Article I Section 9, contains the text "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed". I think the intellectually honest among us would say that even a laws that prevents the enforcement of a law enforce at the time the act was committed is ex post facto.

            We will never know though because of the "standing trap" which is another gross miscarriage of the notion of rule of law. "You can't sue us for violating your fourth amendment rights because you can't reasonably know first if we did or not" had to be one of the most morally and intellectually bankrupt arguments ever to fly to the date it was made; and then Obama just kept talking...

             

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        What if Obama's iPhone 5S platinum plus edition is locked to AT&T, but he wants to use BOOST MOBILE? Then this would be a fight which advances his own goals.

        I'm sure the president would instead buy it outright from the Apple store, thus getting an unlocked phone to begin with.

        It's probably a joke that Apple is one of the few stores selling unlocked phones. The Samsung store won't sell you phones, neither does Sony nor Microsoft... they just chase you to a carrier store so you can buy the locked one.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      The law would have to be reversed by Congress, and right now, even if Obama wanted to, he's going to save his political capital for those fights which advance his own goals

      And there is very little reason to think Obama will want to.
      White House has not been taking these petitions seriously -- the "build a death star" petition got a much (much!) more thorough and well-written response than "legalize pot" or "ban TSA" petitions. This tells me quite a bit about the expected petition impact.

    • USA! USA! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by coder111 (912060) <coder&rrmail,com> on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:24AM (#42747965)
      Is it just me, or is capitalism in USA becoming even scarier than socialism in USSR was? I mean, I understand ending up in a mental institution (or a gulag in earlier times) for criticising the party. That's harsh and ruthless and unfair and evil, but at least understandable. But life-ruining fines and jail time for downloading an mp3 or using a device you own to the fullest? That's just insane. Well, not insane. It's exactly the same thing. It's a punishment for resistance against the Powers that Be. In USSR this was the government and the party, so you were punished for speaking up against government. In USA government does not matter. In USA it's the corporations, so you'll get punished for doing anything at all that annoys them.

      Compared to being ruled by these corporations, politburo looks like a good idea...

      --Coder
      • Re:USA! USA! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Luckyo (1726890) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:34AM (#42748003)

        In Russia, power is money.
        In USA, money is power.

        • by 1s44c (552956)

          In Russia, power is money.
          In USA, money is power.

          There should be a great amount of money and power to be gained by moving between Russian and the US often.

      • by kdemetter (965669)

        Extremes are always a lot closer than it seems : in extreme socialism/communism everything is controlled by a single government entity ( the government owns everything, including all companies )
        In extreme capitalism, everything is controlled by a single company ( the company owns everything, including the government ).

        Unsurprisingly , the end results are the same.

        • Re:USA! USA! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:55AM (#42748091)

          Extremes are always a lot closer than it seems : in extreme socialism/communism everything is controlled by a single government entity ( the government owns everything, including all companies )
          In extreme capitalism, everything is controlled by a single company ( the company owns everything, including the government ).

          Unsurprisingly , the end results are the same.

          Right, compare Stalinism and Nazism, one extreme left wing the other extreme right wing, the difference wasn't really all that great in the way they operated. One of my favorite descriptions of these two systems comes from some nameless Soviet citizen who observed that Russians were forced to choose between two homicidal dictators and they chose the one who spoke Russian.

      • Re:USA! USA! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:20AM (#42748217)

        The systems aren't that much different when you strip the fluff.

        Both systems are founded on a lie. The Communist lie was "Work hard today, and we'll all be living in paradise tomorrow." The Capitalist lie is more insidious, because it's more personal. "Work hard, and you can be rich too". What's insidious about it is that success is only dependent on YOU. If Communism fails, we all failed, and hence the system. If you don't work out in Capitalism, it only means you didn't work hard enough, it doesn't mean that the system is a lie. And as if to prove it is, there are some people who actually "made it", who managed to get rich. But once you look closer and find out just HOW they got rich, you notice that most of them either came from rich backgrounds or had backers who Joe Average has no chance of ever meeting. What's left of those self-made millionaires, who actually had an idea, risked everything and succeeded, is pretty close in number to lottery millionaires.

        In other words, if you want to get rich, forget working and buy a lottery ticket. It's much easier, less risky and more likely.

        The only "advantage" the Capitalist system has over the Communist one is that it's harder to see through. Plus we do not have a "West" that would show us that there's a better way.

        • Well, come on now.  The Capitalist ideal is not just that you can get rich, but also just that you can improve yourself through your own hard work.

          And that is still generally true.
      • Re:USA! USA! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Forever Wondering (2506940) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:48AM (#42748357)
        In Russia, they had a saying: "With capitalism, man exploits man. With communism, it's the other way 'round ..."
    • by irving47 (73147)

      Check congress' record on things like the can-spam act, the regs. on manipulating volume during commercials, and most importantly, the do not call list creation... They sometimes act on "easy" consumer-rights type stuff... AT&T and Verizon surely have their hooks in deep, but they're the only ones who benefit from locked phones and their arguments are running out. Especially with the ETF fees in place.

    • even if Obama wanted to, he's going to save his political capital for those fights which advance his own goals

      Obama got twice as much money [opensecrets.org] as Romney in the last election from Verizon. And that was just one cellular carrier.

      You all think the law as it stands was not very much supported and driven by Democrats? Well enjoy laying in the bed you all voted for. I'm not going to sign the petition because I figure America should get what it asked for, full bore. Enjoy the next four years rubes! That should gi

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        "liberal fascism"? Is that what we got from Bush? Because from here, the new boss looks like the old boss, even after he won a second term, when they said he's come out of his shell because he won't be running again later.
      • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:37AM (#42748305) Journal

        Its not liberal fascism. The whole liberal conservative thing is window dressing, there ain't no such thing as liberal fascism. You're state is fascist or its not. Our state is fascist. Any illusion to the contrary can be cured by a sufficiently long detox period. This is a nation of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation and politician's position on Gay Marriage only exist to get the "Rubes" as you so elegantly put it, distracted from the fact that they're being rectally assaulted.

        My friends, they walls keep getting higher and the passages narrower. here's a bit of useful information. After the dip, comes the shearing, There are the herders and the Lamb Chops, and I don't expect anybody writing here is a herder.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think our President, Barack Obama is a dick. Also I don't think there's any racial group I'd consider inferior or subhuman. Hold on while I yell the same thing out of my window.

          ...no, no police knocking on the door yet. Guess it's not fascism.

          Grow up kiddie. The world sucks and there's a lot of stupid powergames going on, and a lot of laws existing that shouldn't. That doesn't mean in any way shape or form our country resembles Mussolini's Italy or Hitler's Germany. Get a sense of proportion.

    • by Genda (560240)

      Hell with Congress, the Big O is standing smack dab next to JOE BIDEN, a man whose nose is so deeply buried in the crack of service corporations that he can accurately determine whether or not they're brushing the backs of their teeth!

    • by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:20AM (#42748215)

      Also, we're acting defensively when we should be going on the offensive instead. Reinstating our rights to unlock our phones is not enough.

      The locking of phones by carriers should be made illegal in the first place. Our airways are a public good. They're part of our public infrastructure. They're just like our public roads. As a society, we get to set the rules of the road, or update them as need be. The locking of phones may have been ok in the beginning, but this is a business practice that needs to stop right now.

  • So we have this situation where let's say I get an iPhone 5, the iPhone 5 (16GB) runs at about $650, I sign up on a contract and pay approx $200 for a 3 year term. If I break the contract I have to pay around $400 to cancel my contract. So if I unlock my phone and goto another carrier how does that deprive the carrier of their 'investment' ?
    • by Kenja (541830)
      Because you didn't pay 650$, you paid 99$. If you get the 650$ version from Apple, it's not carrier locked.
      • by Nikker (749551)
        So if I pay the difference back to cancel my contract what is the reasoning behind paying $500K and going to jail for 5 years?
        • So if I pay the difference back to cancel my contract what is the reasoning behind paying $500K and going to jail for 5 years?

          Same reasoning behind $250k per 99 cent song.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Once you pay the difference and cancel your contract, the phone is yours and I'm certain that the carrier would not only be obliged to, but be happy to give you the unlock code.

          The part *I* don't get, is why they needed a new law for this. If you unlock your phone and use it on a different carrier, and STOP paying your old carrier, you've basically stolen your phone by way of defaulting on the payments for it. I'm sure there were/are plenty of laws already covering the provider under those circumstances.

          The

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Once you pay the difference and cancel your contract, the phone is yours and I'm certain that the carrier would not only be obliged to, but be happy to give you the unlock code.

            The part *I* don't get, is why they needed a new law for this. If you unlock your phone and use it on a different carrier, and STOP paying your old carrier, you've basically stolen your phone by way of defaulting on the payments for it. I'm sure there were/are plenty of laws already covering the provider under those circumstances.

            yeah, it's called an early termination fee which is supposed to reimburse the carrier for the full cost of the phone.

            The part I REALLY don't get is Americans inability to understand that THEY DON'T OWN their contract phones - at least until the end of the contract. They don't seem confused about their leased cars, you don't see Americans simply stop paying their lease and assume the car's theirs. Why the fuck do they do it with phones?

            The part you don't get is that the carrier is not obliged to unlock the phone at the end of the term - nor even if you paid the full unsubsidized price and kept the same phone for 5 years.

            And even if you break your contract and pay the early termination fee, the carrier is still not obligated to unlock it for you.

            Maybe you'd be less condescending if you'd learn a bit about the issue before s

            • by bfandreas (603438)
              Which makes getting your phone from the carrier a bad idea to begin with.
              They use it as a ball&chain to bind you to them. And if you find a better deal/a carrier that's not crappy then you will have to pay for the phone anyway.

              Since I often find that carriers don't have the specific phone I want and I won't switch carriers just to get a new mobe I usually buy them myself. And snce they are jolly expensive, I only get a new phone every 3 years or when mine breaks. Since my Moto Defy still is happily c
            • by greenbird (859670)

              The part you don't get is that the carrier is not obliged to unlock the phone at the end of the term

              No one is asking the carrier to to do a damn thing. The phone is mine. I paid the full price for it (actually more than the full price if I completed the multi-year obligation). Why should I be a criminal because I modify something I friggin paid for and own. It's completely asinine. The congress idiots that passed such a law should be in jail.

          • Since you couldn't steal what you already own, you needed a new law.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Because you didn't pay 650$, you paid 99$. If you get the 650$ version from Apple, it's not carrier locked.

        You don't seem to understand the early termination fee.

        AT&T has the iPhone 5 for $199, and if you cancel the contract early, an early termination fee of $350.

        If you bought the phone, then broke the contract immediately by paying the ETF, you'd pay $550 for the phone.

        Their "unlocked" price for the phone is $650, so you'd get a $100 discount.

        But if AT&T is really losing money when selling the phone for "only" $550, then it seems like the answer to that problem is either to charge a higher purchase pri

        • by whoever57 (658626)
          It's not the job of government to protect broken business models. In this case AT&T should either charge more for the phone or their ETF, or (and I suspect that this is the real answer), the "unlocked" price for the phone is artificially inflated.
        • by Belial6 (794905)
          The problem is that the carriers are being allowed to commit fraud. If they really did sell you the phone for $99, then they have already lost their money, and they just hope to make more of it back in service. If the ETF is less than what they lost when they sold you the phone, that is too bad. They sold you the phone at $99. Of course, we all know that they did not sell the phone for $99. They gave you a loan for the purchase of the phone with a $99 down payment, and a two year contract to pay it off
          • I don't think that is misrepresented. I think most people have a clear understanding that the phone is cheaper under a contract because the carrier is making the money back on service.

            They don't just sell you the phone for $99. They sell you the phone for $99 under the conditions of the contract which include you either paying for the service every month or paying an early termination fee.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          because why compete when you can legislate your shitty business model into the criminal system?

          seriously, if any company was losing money even on "phone trafficking" scams, they need to learn how to math.

      • by wierd_w (1375923)

        Ok, here's one for you.

        Say I walk into a phone store. In this case, let's say T-mobile.

        I say I want a shiny new galaxy series smartphone, to replace my aging android froyo device. They eagerly wish to sign me onto a subsidized plan.

        I tell them that I am already happy with my monthly refilled no contract plan, and that I have the 1K in my pocket right now to just buy the phone. They whinge a little by telling me they won't replace it if lost, stolen, or damaged, but transact the purchase.

        I leave the store.

        • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mister2au (1707664) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @01:31AM (#42747743)

          How do you suggest I proceed?

          How do you want to proceed? You bought a phone that is locked to Sprint ... It is still locked to Sprint

          Personally, I would be buying an unlocked phone and if Samsung does not make them available, then Samsung would lose my business to Apple.

        • To me the whole aspect of unlocking in the U.S. is nearly moot because most phones cannot move between AT&T and Verizon, because the technologies used are so different. Verizon and Sprint both use CDMA which was never designed with the SIM approach in mind.

          About all you can do is go from one of the others to T-Mobile. Now I don't hate T-Mobile, but it's a hard and fast truth you are not going to get the same coverage nor network speed there as you would one one of the major carriers.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        In Hong Kong it's done rather differently - and I think better for the customer, and the carrier alike.

        Here there are also plenty of subsidised phone plans.

        What the carrier does: they offer phone+plan, then you have to pay for the phone full fee in advance, and get a monthly discount on your bill for the duration of your contract. Both those plans and phones are sold separately as well, and you have many mix-and-match options.

        This is good for the customer: they get their phone at a discount, and can switch

    • It doesn't deprive the carrier of their investment, which is why these days your carrier would unlock it for you anyhow. Unlocking is no longer a DMCA exception because carriers now regularly unlock phones that are paid off.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@ l y n x.bc.ca> on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:49AM (#42747501) Journal

    ... taking the cell phone to Canada and unlocking it there?

    Notwithstanding that this could violate a cell phone provider's terms of service agreement, and one could still be accountable to their cell provider for violating that.

    However, in Canada, the unlocking of cell phones is *expressly* legal.

    And, if people who are, for instance, residents of California, are allowed to travel to Nevada and gamble and then return without consequence, I see no reason why a person from the USA could not also go into Canada and unlock their phone there without legal repercussions.

    I smell a potentially profitable business opportunity for people who live in border towns.

    • by Miseph (979059)

      I do not disagree with the premise that unlocking a phone should be legal: indeed, I feel that creating criminal penalties for doing so is a travesty, and might border on treasonous for the legislators involved.

      But...

      I was not aware that Canada had joined the Union and become a state. That would be a legally relevant point of interest.

    • by Zemran (3101)

      Logically, a person who works and travels in both countries would need his phone unlocked if he wants to use a Canadian provider while in Canada or in fact any area not covered by his provider. I can quite understand providers wanting to lock phones but to break such an agreement is not and should not be criminal. Intent should be a part of the equation in that if I have a good reason to need my phone unlocked (examples already given) and I want my contract to continue and intend to continue to use the or

      • Well, there actually *could* be potential harm if you consider loss of revenue to be harm. Why would anybody want to use a Canadian provider while in Canada? Presumably the same reason that I unlocked my phone to use a US provider when I travel to the US (from Canada). I don't want to pay the exorbitant roaming fees. The cell companies make good money off of people travelling and using their phones while roaming. Also, even though somebody might pay for a base plan the provider can still at times earn

  • Write a letter (Score:5, Informative)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:51AM (#42747509)

    While the "We the People" petition is a nice symbolic measure, it's not likely to result in any real action even if it reaches the signature limit.

    It'd be far better if everyone wrote letters to their congressional representatives. There are lots of guides on the internet for doing so, here's one:

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/letterscongress.htm [about.com]

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      That, and the fact that anyone can sign this petition, including everyone on the planet, not just Americans. This is ridiculous.

  • by SampleFish (2769857) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @01:00AM (#42747565)
    Let's first recognize that the "cell phone" is in fact a radio. Now imagine if the radio in your car was locked to one station and you had to buy a new radio in order to listen to a different radio station. Imagine if you had to buy a new TV when switching cable providers. It's absurd. I've always thought that people should be able to buy hardware of their choosing and use it wherever it is compatible. These smartphones are little computers. I should be able to buy any hardware platform and load any OS on it. Then I should be able to go to any cellular ISP and install their radio/modem/SIM. (Note there are only 2 types of radio and 4 companies to chose from). It would be more expensive but there is no reason to make preposterous legislation around it.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @01:08AM (#42747607) Journal

    CTIA [Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association] explained that the practice of locking cell phones is an essential part of the wireless industry's predominant business model, which involves subsidizing the cost of wireless handsets in exchange for a commitment from the customer that the phone will be used on that carrier's service so that the subsidy can eventually be recouped by the carrier. CTIA alleged that the industry has been plagued by âoelarge scale phone trafficking operationsâ that buy large quantities of pre-paid phones, unlock them, and resell them in foreign markets where carriers do not subsidize handsets.

    1. The industry business model is selling subsidized phones in exchange for a multi-year contract.
    Most carriers have early termination fees that are prorated the longer you stick to your contract,
    which directly reflects the cost of the subsidized phone they sold you.
    The carrier could care less what happens to that phone, as long as I hold to my contract or pay the ETF.

    2. If there is a big problem with pre-paid phones, then craft the unlocking exemption to exclude prepaid phones.

    The CTIA must have gotten their guidance from the copyright industry, where singular counts of infringement are treated the same as large scale criminal enterprises.

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      CTIA [Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association] explained that the practice of locking cell phones is an essential part of the wireless industry's predominant business model, which involves subsidizing the cost of wireless handsets in exchange for a commitment from the customer that the phone will be used on that carrier's service so that the subsidy can eventually be recouped by the carrier. CTIA alleged that the industry has been plagued by âoelarge scale phone trafficking operationsâ that buy large quantities of pre-paid phones, unlock them, and resell them in foreign markets where carriers do not subsidize handsets.

      Emphasis mine. Their predominant business model doesn't seem to be working as more and more countries pass ahead of America as far as cellular telcos are concerned - with both better service and lower fares. And strangely, all those countries ahead have unlocking explicitly legal.

      Maybe just forbidding everyone to lock phones would be a good idea? Just a hint of course...

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @01:09AM (#42747617) Homepage

    The petitions are worthless. Opium for the masses. No petition has ever had any useful effect.

    No petition will ever have a useful effect, unless you count the placebo effect as useful: "I did something for my cause, now I can go back to sleep".

  • The ones that actually matter, anyway. Still, good luck with your petition guys.

  • My plan was to just ignore the law and unlock my phone anyway and -- oh wait, I buy my phones used on eBay to start with and don't even get involved in the whole carrier-subsidy treadmill.

  • by somenickname (1270442) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @01:33AM (#42747751)

    It's pretty simple what you can do about it: Don't buy subsidized phones. Not only do you end up paying more for a subsidized phone, you lose your rights to do whatever you want with it.

    I really don't understand why people are so up in arms about this. I'm a card carrying member of the EFF and ACLU and, apart from the fact that this is a criminal offense instead of a civil issue, I'm not really that concerned because the "loophole" is so simple: Buy your fucking phone instead of renting it.

    • Except this ignores the second-hand phone market. Someone could buy a subsidized iPhone 5 today and use it for two years, then sell it. If the original owner doesn't remember to request an unlock prior to the sale, the buyer is now stuck.

      I bought a second hand 3GS and decided to pay for a SIM unlock rather than having to wait for ultrasn0w to update every time iOS increments. It's too bad future purchasers of used phones won't have that option open to them. And for what it's worth, AT&T doesn't seem wil

    • Not only do you end up paying more for a subsidized phone, you lose your rights to do whatever you want with it.

      That is not true from many angles.

      For one thing a data plan for an iPhone on the major carriers is the same, subsidized or no. So you'd pay more for an unlocked phone, and then pay as much as the guy who bought a phone with a plan for service over two years. Yes you could bail earlier but most people keep the same carrier a few years.

      You could pay less going to a company like T-Mobile but there

  • Since old phones are grandfathered, don't buy a new phone as long as you can't use it the way you want to use it.
    My phone is good enough and shows no sign of wear.

  • by loshwomp (468955) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @01:59AM (#42747839)

    Is there some explicit "no unlocking whatsoever" clause in the DMCA? As far as I'm aware, the only thing that's happened is that the explicit exemption for unlocking has expired. While I'm not volunteering to be the test case, it seems like there's a good case to be made that the generic DMCA language doesn't forbid unlocking.

    In most cases, I'm not altering the software on the phone by unlocking it. I'm merely entering a code, and the phone already has software onboard specifically for the purpose of unlocking that phone when I enter said code.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:50AM (#42748077)

    Imagine the fun if they did something similar with operating systems. You bought your laptop with Windows on it. $500,000 and a 5 year prison sentence for switching it to Linux next. After all, Microsoft expects the revenue from their new app store and you are depriving them off that by changing to an open platform!

    It's no more ridiculous than this idea.

    • Imagine the fun if they did something similar with operating systems. You bought your laptop with Windows on it. $500,000 and a 5 year prison sentence for switching it to Linux next. After all, Microsoft expects the revenue from their new app store and you are depriving them off that by changing to an open platform!

      And that's getting it completely backwards. The DMCA law makes it illegal to breach encryption, but then exemptions were made to allow people to do things that they should rightfully be allowed to do. Like owning an unlocked phone, or running the OS of your choice. In the case of unlocked phones, it was decided that there are so many ways now to get unlocked phones that no exemption of the DMCA is needed anymore. If it turns out to be hard to install Linux on computers without violating the DMCA, then I wou

  • Technological limitations on unlocking your phone aren't the only questionable business practices of cellular providers. I think we need both legalized unlocking, better billing practices, and limitations on the contracts. That is why I put together http://wh.gov/y6kK [wh.gov]. Please take a moment to sign it. Body text follows:

    Customers of cellular phone plans in the US are treated poorly. We would like to see regulations that require things like:

    1) A bill that reflects the advertised price, and separate line items

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:22AM (#42748221)
    Fact 1: There is the DMCA law, and it won't go away.
    Fact 2: Unlocking your phone yourself requires a violation of the DMCA law.
    Fact 3: It is entirely reasonable to want an unlocked phone. And it is entirely reasonable that anyone should be able to get an unlocked phone without breaking any criminal laws.

    Three years ago, it was recognized that most people could only fulfil their wish to have an unlocked phone by unlocking it themselves, so an exemption was made that the DMCA violation of unlocking the phone yourself was not considered a crime. Now it is assumed that people can indeed get unlocked phones, so there is no need to unlock yourself, so there is no need for an exemption.

    Now here is the conclusion: Since you are not allowed to unlock a phone yourself, surely your service provider _must_ unlock it when you ask for it and cannot refuse. So instead of asking for permission to violate the DMCA law, people should ask their service provider to unlock the phone and take them to court if they refuse.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      And you should be required to front the cost of them taking the carrier to court, to be paid back only out of the monetary award the court might give them. This is, after all, the moral obligation of anyone that suggests using the courts in a country where the legal system is rigged so only the top two percent can actually afford to use it.

  • Disobey it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @05:03AM (#42748787)
    I plan to just disobey it.
  • by qeveren (318805) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:29AM (#42749165)

    How the carriers could've just, oh I dunno, raised their early termination fees. But instead, they get their pet lawmakers to effectively make contract violation a Federal felony. Something tells me this isn't about loss of contract profits.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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