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Cellphones Your Rights Online

White House Urges Reversal of Ban On Cell-Phone Unlocking 256

Posted by samzenpus
from the set-my-phone-free dept.
netbuzz writes "In a dramatic call for action directly prompted by 114,000 signatures on a 'We the People' petition, the Obama Administration moments ago urged the reversal of a federal regulatory decision that had rendered the act of unlocking a cell phone illegal. From the reply: 'The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.' Statements from the FCC and Library of Congress indicate that they back the administration's position."
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White House Urges Reversal of Ban On Cell-Phone Unlocking

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  • Link to the response (Score:5, Informative)

    by entropiccanuck (854472) on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:54PM (#43072197)
    Would be nice to have in the summary [whitehouse.gov].
  • Re:Political stunt (Score:5, Informative)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:57PM (#43072233) Homepage Journal

    The decision was made by the Library of Congress, removing unlocking from the list of things exempt from the DMCA I believe. If they reverse that decision, and it sounds like they will, then the problem is solved unless Congress drafts specific legislation to make it illegal.

  • Re:Political stunt (Score:4, Informative)

    by shentino (1139071) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:05PM (#43072335)

    All Congress has to do is let the 3 years expire again and we're back to the status quo.

  • Re:Political stunt (Score:5, Informative)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:12PM (#43072439) Homepage Journal
    According to the White House response, the relevent parties already had a chat with the LoC, at the normal time, who said "No":

    The White House's position detailed in this response builds on some critical thinking done by the President's chief advisory Agency on these matters: the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). For more context and information on the technical aspects of the issue, you can review the NTIA's letter to the Library of Congress' Register of Copyrights (.pdf), voicing strong support for maintaining the previous exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for cell phone carrier unlocking.

    Contrary to the NTIA's recommendation, the Librarian of Congress ruled that phones purchased after January of this year would no longer be exempted from the DMCA. The law gives the Librarian the authority to establish or eliminate exceptions -- and we respect that process

    The response goes on to say - with some agreement - that the LoC feels that the problem is the DMCA, and that legislation would be a better way to move forward than trying to hack around the DMCA all the time.

    So I think the Whitehouse is deliberately avoiding the LoC route. It's not clear whether they would prefer the LoC take action, but it's clear that executive policy is that the situation needs to be resolved permanently, in legislation.

  • Re:Political stunt (Score:5, Informative)

    by Artraze (600366) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:19PM (#43072521)

    Technically it's not so much the "Library of Congress" as it is the "Librarian of Congress", a position appointed by the president, that delivered the decision. The current guy was appointed by Regan in '87, and while it's not terribly clear if he was reappointed by Obama or was just left in place, it is fair to say that he answers to President Obama. (There isn't a specific term on the position; it's life by precedent but there's no reason he couldn't be removed.)

    The point is, that this is something that the office of the president has a fair amount of control over. If Obama wants it to happen, there's no real reason it shouldn't. As far as the GP's post, a public "urging" could be seen as grandstanding since this would be a bit like your boss holding a press conference to urge you to change your decision on something. However, as it was publicly asked, a public response is warranted.

    With that in mind though, if the ban on unlocking isn't reversed, and rather quickly at that, it'll highlight some serious problems with the system and "grandstanding" would be about the nicest thing you can say about it...

  • Re:Political stunt (Score:5, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:34PM (#43072679)
    There is no "they." The GP is wrong. The decision is made by the Librarian of Congress, in accordance with Section 1201(a)(1) title 17, United States Code [copyright.gov]. Any "they" would have to be referring to the Register of Copyrights and the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information of the Department of Commerce, who work in an advisory role.

    But, the statement issued by the Library of Congress [loc.gov] says about as little as is possible with so many words. I certainly don't get the feeling that the LoC will revisit the decision, and I don't see where the law provides a mechanism for that, even if they wanted to. The statement refers to a benefit to "review and resolution" in the context of telecommunications policy, says the rulemaking "was not intended to be a substitute for deliberations of broader public policy," and ends with a door slam - "The most recent rulemaking has served this purpose."
  • Re:Political stunt (Score:3, Informative)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:48PM (#43073645)

    In other words

    If it feels good, do it.

    If ya got it, spend it!

    etc.

    Sometimes what is best for the Nation is not what is popular.

    A democracy can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.
    Paraphrased, Elmer T. Perterson, The Daily Oklahoman

    "In a democracy, people get the government they deserve"

  • Re:Political stunt (Score:4, Informative)

    by dywolf (2673597) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @05:04PM (#43083669)

    stop using word games to perpetuate that myth.
    they are cuts.
    they are real cuts in real budgets.
    right now, already, all federal employees (non military) of the department of defense, have had their take home pay for the remainder of the fiscal year cut by 20%, via mandated furloughs of 1 "no-work, no-leave, no-pay", day per week from NOW until the end of hte fiscal year.

    That is not a cut in in growth.
    That is a real cut, happening right now, that affects real people.
    More than 800,000 of them.
    Similar cuts are happening across all the agencies. That means to FBI agents, USDA food inspectors (already some meat plants have had to shutdown operations either a few days a week, or altogether due to lack of inspectors), etc.

    And while you can argue about what the federal spending should be all day long, those are real people performing real jobs, that are now facing having 20% less money to meet their financial obligations for the rest of the fiscal year (now to september). many of thsoe folks are on contract so they cant just leave for better work. and the cuts in pay are likely to stick around, unless the work consolidates, which instead means more work spread across fewer people; dont you love when that happens in a project??

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