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White House Petition To Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal Needs 11,000 Signatures 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the freedom-of-technology dept.
On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. "It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked." The 30 days time limit on the petition is almost up, and it's about 11,000 signatures shy of the amount necessary to ensure a response from the Obama administration (100,000 total, recently increased from 25,000). The creator of the petition received a Cease & Desist letter from Motorola in 2005 for selling software that would allow users to unlock their phones, and he thinks it's only a matter of time before such legal threats begin again. This is part of a larger battle to protect the way consumers can use their devices. While it's still legal for people to root their phones, the Librarian of Congress failed to expand that legal protection to tablets, even though the devices are incredibly similar. The Librarian's decision (PDF) needs further review, and if the White House petition doesn't get enough signatures by February 23, such a review may not happen.
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White House Petition To Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal Needs 11,000 Signatures

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  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @06:41PM (#42960115)

    Do you know why their doing this?It's because of the problem of so many people getting cells/droids under a contarcted agreement then deciding they want to switch to a diferent carrier without having to pay a large fe to get out of the original contract so I can understand why the major company's want this law.The people themselves are the reason this is happening,it is not the fault of the providers whatsoever,it is the fault of the users

    If you get out of your contract agreement, you're going to pay a fee which is dependent on how long you have to go on your contract, regardless of whether you can unlock your phone or not. The fee is for breaking the contract, not to unlock your phone.

  • Re:False Equivalence (Score:5, Informative)

    by Clomer (644284) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @06:41PM (#42960119)

    "...have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision" != "Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal"

    That is all.

    The summary is poor. The petition itself actually states "We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."

  • by mariasama16 (1895136) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @06:42PM (#42960129)
    Well, its currently only needing 10,125 signatures, so some people are signing it (and I'm one who created an account to sign it myself).
  • by doug141 (863552) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @07:29PM (#42960589)
    There's also a petition to appoint Susan as FCC Chairman.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/appoint-susan-crawford-fcc-chairman/73mtqt0q [whitehouse.gov] ,

    Susan Crawford, law school professor and author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Guilded Age, says “Truly high-speed wired Internet access is as basic to innovation, economic growth, social communication, and the country’s competitiveness as electricity was a century ago, but a limited number of Americans have access to it, many can’t afford it, and the country has handed control of it over to Comcast and a few other companies.”

    In a recent TV interview, she pointed out high speed access in Hong Kong costs a fraction of what it does in New York city, because the US providers don't enter each other's markets. She wants to change that.

    http://billmoyers.com/segment/susan-crawford-on-why-u-s-internet-access-is-slow-costly-and-unfair/ [billmoyers.com]

  • Re:Don't care (Score:5, Informative)

    by erice (13380) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @08:09PM (#42960885) Homepage

    If you truly paid for your phone then it is perfectly legal to jailbreak it. If you have a subsidized phone that you only partially paid.

    Not true. In exchange for the subsidy, you entered a legally binding contract that requires you to pay for service for a limited time period. The phone is yours. The state even requires you to pay sales tax on the unsubsidized price at the time of purchase. It is this contract that ties you to the carrier, typically for two years. The lock is completely unnecessary for ensuring that the carrier gets paid and only serves to obstruct the owner from using their own device in any way that doesn't bring extra profit to the carrier above and beyond the required service agreement.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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