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What You Can Do About the Phone Unlocking Fiasco 416

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 @01:39AM (#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 SampleFish ( 2769857 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:00AM (#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.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mister2au ( 1707664 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:31AM (#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.

  • by somenickname ( 1270442 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:33AM (#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.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:01AM (#42747851)

    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 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?

  • USA! USA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coder111 ( 912060 ) <coder@rrmail.CURIEcom minus physicist> on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:24AM (#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...

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

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:34AM (#42748003)

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

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:50AM (#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?

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

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:55AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:12AM (#42748185)

    Indeed. In the New World all men are equal. Of course, some men are more equal than others.

  • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:20AM (#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.

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

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:20AM (#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.

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:22AM (#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 Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:35AM (#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.

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

    by Forever Wondering ( 2506940 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:48AM (#42748357)
    In Russia, they had a saying: "With capitalism, man exploits man. With communism, it's the other way 'round ..."
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @05:13AM (#42748499)
    The irony of you considering an Apple device because you dislike lock-in is not lost on me.
  • Disobey it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:03AM (#42748787)
    I plan to just disobey it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @08:11AM (#42749315)

    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 DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @08:11AM (#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 interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @08:38AM (#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."

  • by isilrion ( 814117 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:13PM (#42753013)

    Yes, because immigration reform and equal rights for homosexuals are stupid, trivial issues that are a waste of time that common men shouldn't be bothered with or care about. *sigh*

    No, those are not stupid. What is stupid is to spend time on them, get the people excited, and actually argue about it. Specially homosexual rights (I'm not USAian, so I don't even know what immigration reform is all about). I have yet to see an argument against homosexual rights,yet it is argued, when there is no data to support the opossing position. (No, "I don't wanna" is not an argument. An argument is "this is how this group of people will be harm by they having the same rights as I have", preferably with a study supporting that the harm is real). I'm sure there are plenty of topics that are not or cannot be scientifically settled - those are the ones they should spend their times on.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend