Petition to legalize cell-phone unlocking tops 100,000 signatures

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#1
Petition to legalize cell-phone unlocking tops 100,000 signatures

White House now required to comment on call for reversing DMCA interpretation

By Paul McNamara on Thu, 02/21/13 - 9:04am.
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The White House will now have to explain why it believes unlocking your cell phone is a crime. I just received a press alert from Derek Khanna, a former House Republican staffer who is leading an effort to get the government to reverse its interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that criminalizes the unlocking of a cell phone.

This screen capture shows that the required 100,000 signatures have been gathered on a White House petition seeking to reverse the ban.

"As you may know, unlocking cellphones is now illegal under the DMCA," Khanna writes. "This is an issue that has exploded online as it has engaged millions of Americans on both the left and right. Our White House petition to reverse this decision has now accumulated over 100,000 signatures -- this is the threshold at which the White House will respond. At this rate, with still three days to gather signatures, this petition will have the second highest amount of signatures of any petition on the White House website."


It's difficult to imagine any politician, Republican or Democrat, stepping up to publicly defend this violation of personal property rights.

But it's not difficult to imagine this all getting swept under the rug.

Khanna and his fellow advocates for reform have set up a new website -- www.fixthedmca.org - for those interested in following developments and/or helping the cause.
http://www.networkworld.com/communi...e-cell-phone-unlocking-tops-100000-signatures
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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#2
This law is bullshit. You sign a contract to have a phone subsidized. If you either complete that contract or leave early and pay the penalty, you have covered your obligation to purchase that phone.
 

Mags

LDAR, bitch.
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#3
I'm sure our politicians will have our best interests in mind when they deal with these corporations.
 

Don the Radio Guy

G-Bb-A-D
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Mar 30, 2006
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#4
Why do people waste their time on these petitions? Just unlock your damn phone.
 

Hate & Discontent

Yo, homie. Is that my briefcase?
Aug 22, 2005
15,799
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#5
This law is bullshit. You sign a contract to have a phone subsidized. If you either complete that contract or leave early and pay the penalty, you have covered your obligation to purchase that phone.
Pretty sure this has nothing to do with skating on a contract.

Sent from the USS Sulaco.
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
79,630
27,842
898
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#7
Why do people waste their time on these petitions? Just unlock your damn phone.
Yes, because it's better to circumvent a bad law than try to fix it.

And unlike your average online petition, this one is actually forcing action. I'm not saying it's going anywhere, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the effort.
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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#8
Pretty sure this has nothing to do with skating on a contract.

Sent from the USS Sulaco.
Doesn't the law say you can never unlock your phone and take it to another carrier, even after meeting your contractual obligations for purchasing that phone?

What happens is the carrier will subsidize your phone for a two-year contract. Once you've met that contract, or bailed on it and paid the early termination fee, that phone is your property. At this point, you should be able to do whatever you want with it, including unlocking it and taking it to another carrier.
 

Don the Radio Guy

G-Bb-A-D
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#9
Yes, because it's better to circumvent a bad law than try to fix it.

And unlike your average online petition, this one is actually forcing action. I'm not saying it's going anywhere, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the effort.
Because the White House takes these petitions so seriously?

Has anyone ever been arrested for unlocking a phone?
 

Hate & Discontent

Yo, homie. Is that my briefcase?
Aug 22, 2005
15,799
1,350
693
#10
Doesn't the law say you can never unlock your phone and take it to another carrier, even after meeting your contractual obligations for purchasing that phone?

What happens is the carrier will subsidize your phone for a two-year contract. Once you've met that contract, or bailed on it and paid the early termination fee, that phone is your property. At this point, you should be able to do whatever you want with it, including unlocking it and taking it to another carrier.
I agree with you. I apparently misread your first post - I took it as you thought the law let you skip out of your contract or something. I posted that on the way to work.
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
Donator
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#11
I agree with you. I apparently misread your first post - I took it as you thought the law let you skip out of your contract or something. I posted that on the way to work.
Yeah I figured that's what happened, I would never be in support of allowing people to just skip out on a contract (what's the point of having one then).
 

Don the Radio Guy

G-Bb-A-D
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#13
Unlocking prepaid phones to allow free calling should be illegal. I'm talking about your average person.
 

peewee

Registered User
Aug 10, 2003
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#14
Am I correct in assuming it would be difficult to activate an unlocked phone with a different carrier?
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#16
Paul McNamara
Buzzblog
Paul McNamara
Previous Article
White House urges reversal of ban on cell-phone unlocking
Reply to petition: ‘It’s time to legalize cell phone unlocking’
By Paul McNamara on Mon, 03/04/13 - 2:01pm.

9 Comments
Print

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In a dramatic call for action directly prompted by 114,000 signatures on a "We the People" petition, the Obama Administration moments ago pledged to overturn a federal regulatory decision that had rendered the act of unlocking a cell phone illegal.

From a reply to the petition posted within the hour:

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.

This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs -- even if it isn't the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.

The issue came to a head recently when the Library of Congress allowed to expire an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that until then protected those who would unlock their cell phones and those carriers who would court their business.

As for the next step:

The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.

We also believe the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with its responsibility for promoting mobile competition and innovation, has an important role to play here. FCC Chairman Genachowski today voiced his concern about mobile phone unlocking (.pdf), and to complement his efforts, NTIA will be formally engaging with the FCC as it addresses this urgent issue.

Finally, we would encourage mobile providers to consider what steps they as businesses can take to ensure that their customers can fully reap the benefits and features they expect when purchasing their devices.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued a statement that reads:

"The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress recently reversed its longstanding position and stated it is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for consumers to unlock new mobile phones, even those outside of contract periods, without their wireless providers' permission, and that consumers are subject to criminal penalties if they do.

"From a communications policy perspective, this raises serious competition and innovation concerns, and for wireless consumers, it doesn't pass the common sense test. The FCC is examining this issue, looking into whether the agency, wireless providers, or others should take action to preserve consumers' ability to unlock their mobile phones. I also encourage Congress to take a close look and consider a legislative solution."

As for the Library of Congress, its statement was vague but telling:

"Both the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights value our colleagues in the administration and the thoughtful discussions we have had with them on this issue. We also agree with the administration that the question of locked cell phones has implications for telecommunications policy and that it would benefit from review and resolution in that context."

This news just broke and there's always the possibility that what appears to be a ban reversal will turn out to be something less ... but it appears as though anyone betting on that outcome will be backing a long-shot.

(Update: Here's reaction from Sina Kahnifar, a leader of the petition effort: "I'm really glad to see the White House taking action on an issue that's clearly very important to people. As the White House said in the response, keeping unlocking legal is really 'common sense,' and I'm excited to see them recognizing this.

"This is a big victory for consumers, and I'm glad to have played a part in it. A lot of people reacted skeptically when I originally started the petition, with lots of comments to the effect of 'petitions don't do anything.' The optimist in me is really glad to have proved them wrong. The White House just showed that they really do listen, and that they're willing to take action.

"While I think this is wonderful, I think the real culprit here is Section 1201 of the DMCA, the controversial 'anti-circumvention provision.' I discussed with the White House the potential of pushing to have that provision amended or removed, and they want to continue that conversation.")
http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/white-house-urges-reversal-ban-cell-phone-unlocking
 

Cunt Smasher

Caligula Jr.
Aug 26, 2005
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#17
There's even people that buy their phones outright, and would like the ability to do whatever they want with them.
 

Ego

The Only Thing Bigger Than My Head
Feb 15, 2005
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#19
Take the good you can get from him.