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Unlocking New Mobile Phones Becomes Illegal In the US Tomorrow

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the who-owns-your-stuff dept.

Cellphones 475

Tyketto writes "Referencing a decision outlined in the Federal Register, Tech News Daily has published an article noting that the window to unlock your new mobile phone in the U.S. is closing. 'In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed. But the library provided a 90-day window during which people could still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on January 26.' While this doesn't apply to phones purchased before the window closes, this means that after 1/26/13, for any new mobile phone you purchase, you'll have to fulfill your contract, or break the law to unlock it." It will still be perfectly legal to purchase an unlocked phone, which many carriers offer. This change removes the exemption for buying a new phone under contract (and thus, at a discount) and then unlocking it.

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It would be fair... (3)

xkpe (1842034) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690335)

... if carriers actually released updated to their modified versions of the OS with little delay.

Re:It would be fair... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690399)

It's not fair in any case, since the sole purpose of such laws is to protect business models that were not viable on their own.

Re:It would be fair... (5, Informative)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690623)

the subsidized handset business models of the US carriers are viable, just not universally popular. There's a difference.

I'm not really sure which laws you mean by "such laws", exactly, but if you mean the DMCA, it's being used in a much wider scope than originally intended. That means it's vague, which makes it unenforceable and potentially unconstitutional, depending on the enforcement action taken. Additionally, whenever you have an entity in a section of government not located squarely in the Judicial branch making decisions on what is and isn't covered by a specific law, you have a clear invitation for judicial review. The LoC isn't the final say here, if the ban on unlocking new phones is actually enforced, the law as it applies to the unlocking activity is going to get reviewed by judges.

Re:It would be fair... (4, Insightful)

Enry (630) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690673)

There's nothing preventing you from buying a phone at the unsubsidized price and then modifying it. You're making a deal with the cell phone provider: You agree that you'll honor the contract you signed, and they give you a phone at a discount. Hopefully this is going to be a bit easier over time as everyones moves to LTE (does this mean that CDMA finally bites the dust?) and phones become standardized like the rest of the civilized world.

Re:It would be fair... (4, Interesting)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690705)

Im not clear here, unlocking is specifically for joining a new carrier, correct? TFS indicates that fulfilling your contract would allow you to unlock your phone, and if you havent fulfilled your contract Im not seeing how you could have unlocked your phone anyways without breaking contract.

From TFA

Other people just like the freedom of being able to switch carriers as they please.

Which you cant do, nor should be able to on contract-subsidized phones, until the contract term is complete; however you could always

.... pay full-price for a phone, not the discounted price that comes with a two-year service contract, to receive the device unlocked from the get-go.

Can someone clarify what the actual issue is?

Re:It would be fair... (5, Informative)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690411)

there is a difference between jail breaking/rooting and unlocking.... this would only affect those ppl who are using an old phone to travel in other countries... or ppl who, like it says, are buying a phone under a contract and then switching contracts

Re:It would be fair... (5, Informative)

s7uar7 (746699) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690451)

This refers to carrier unlocks, not rooting or jailbreaks.

Re:It would be fair... (1, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690671)

Actually it refers to rooting or jailbreaks for the sole purpose of performing a carrier unlock. Carrier unlocking itself is not covered by the DMCA and if there's a non-DMCA-breaching way to do it (Apple has a well-assembled system for unlocking iPhones), you have every right to do so.

Re:It would be fair... (4, Informative)

andy.ruddock (821066) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690891)

That's not what the article says, in fact it specifically says

(Note that unlocking is different from "jailbreaking," which opens the phone up for running additional software and remains legal for smartphones.)

so I read it as referring to sim unlocking.

Re:It would be fair... (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690467)

Doesn't have anything to do with that. Rooting your phone is different than SIM unlocking it.

Re:It would be fair... (0)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690565)

do you really need every point update of android? what does it give you?

there are android phones out there where the manufacturer/carrier will update it to the latest version for a year or more

Re:It would be fair... (2)

arbiterxero (952505) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690745)

This is about switching Carriers, not Rooting.

Re:It would be fair... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690825)

except like it's been mentioned a million times, that the law they used to go after you is not for switching carriers, it's for rooting your phone, which some people do so they can switch carriers.

so yes, it's about switching carriers, but they path to switching carriers for some, is to root and/or jailbreak.

and the violation under law is the root/jailbreak.

it really doesn't matter what the carriers motives are, perhaps they want to force you view advertisement, perhaps they want to prevent people from breaking their contracts, perhaps they want to prevent you from switching carriers... it doesn't matter.

Re:It would be fair... (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690811)

do you really need every point update of android? what does it give you?

Wrong question. Try "Should anyone but me get to decide which updates I need?". Then we can at least start that discussion (not the same one in TFA, BTW) in a meaningful way.


As for the "real" topic from TFA - Should I have the right, if I visit the UK this summer, to put in a local prepaid SIM card (legally obtained and paid for - They actually have sane rules over there about this stuff, and you can buy minutes for a pittance) so I can use my own phone without paying my normal carrier their insane international roaming fees? Keep in mind that my carrier still gets paid their normal monthly contract fee (the one they agreed to when they subsidized my phone up front) during my vacation, and they don't even need to route calls for me during that time.

I would tend to say "yes, I damned well should". But then, I wouldn't buy a locked phone in the first place.

....its not fair. Its indecent. (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690621)

... if carriers actually released updated to their modified versions of the OS with little delay.

Its *not acceptable* never mind fair. You own the phone, implying your hire it is a disgrace. If your only hiring it they should massively reduce costs, and inform you clearly they own the phone.

Re:....its not fair. Its indecent. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690735)

You own the phone, implying your hire it is a disgrace

Unless Im mistaken, you own the phone pursuant to contract terms. The whole reason youre getting that Galaxy S3 for $200 instead of $600 is because Verizon agreed to the $200 price SO LONG AS you signed a 2 year agreement.

Im not clear if Im missing the real problem here, or if people are really arguing that we should say "to hell with contract law".

Re:It would be fair... (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690635)

What would be more fair is if they set an actual fair rate for the "no contract" price. They basically jack up the prices heavily on the no contract phones to try and force you to the subsidized ones.

Google's Nexus 4 is unlocked and sold for $299, yet Verizon essentially wants $150-200 for "subsidized" versions of the similar level phones or $500-600 for no contract versions.

Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (2)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690337)

Everything you buy is not yours.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (5, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690381)

You are free to purchase the handset, sans carrier lock in, for a lump sum. You are bound by the terms of the accompanying contract when you buy a subsidised handset, one of which being that the handset be locked to your carrier.

Free market economics, bub; If you don't like, you don't have to buy it. Go get yourself a 0% interest credit card and buy the handset outright. It will be cheaper than paying contract fees, and you get updates when the manufacturer releases them, not the carrier.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690485)

Free market economics: a system in which megacorps unable to buy each other out and establish an outright monopoly collude to keep prices high and avoid full-scale competition that might drive one or more out of business, and use their unholy profit margins to influence laws and regulations that benefit their business interests.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (2)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690581)

Mod parent up. Nail hit on head.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (2, Interesting)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690755)

Slashdot: A place where people think their entertainment needs and entitlements allow them to violate contract law (and whatever other laws they want) at will.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690487)

You are free to purchase the handset, sans carrier lock in, for a lump sum.

Then how do Boost, Virgin, and other U.S. prepaid carriers get away with up-front sales of phones that are still locked to the carrier?

Go get yourself a 0% interest credit card and buy the handset outright. It will be cheaper than paying contract fees

Not on some U.S. carriers, who don't give a discount on monthly service for buying your phone up front.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690583)

boost and virgin are cdma, that's how it works

Straight Talk you can buy almost any unlocked GSM phone and get a ST sim and use it on the carrier

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690491)

Free Market? Sorry bub, it doesnt exist.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (4, Insightful)

torkus (1133985) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690531)

This has NOTHING to do with free market economics. This is about a poorly written group of laws (DMCA) being used to manipulate a market and prevent you from using something you purchased in a way you want. It impedes first-sale doctrine.

Excluding T-Mobile, all major US carriers include in their monthly pricing the cost to subsidize your phone. So, while TMO has a cheaper monthly plan if you don't get a contract phone...no one else does. In addition, it isn't always the case that you're free to purchase an unlocked version from the carrier.

Our lawmakers need to get their collective heads out of their nether regions and wake up to the reality of the world today. This just brings back yet another pointless, unenforced, and ignored set of restrictions.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (4, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690675)

Excluding T-Mobile, all major US carriers include in their monthly pricing the cost to subsidize your phone. So, while TMO has a cheaper monthly plan if you don't get a contract phone...no one else does. In addition, it isn't always the case that you're free to purchase an unlocked version from the carrier.

So switch to T-Mobile. Everyone switch to T-Mobile, and I guarantee the other carriers will shit bricks and change their policies within days. Too bad we're all too sicked in to buying the latest HTSamsiPhoLGoogAndroid phone to tell "the man" to go fuck his contract terms, and his bought laws.

Our money buys these laws. Stop giving them your money.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690713)

Quite. This isn't about "free market economics". This is about personal property rights being eroded to the benefit of large corporations. This isn't even an example of a bad contract. At least those have some basis to be defended by "libertarians".

This is a statute bought and paid for by industry that interferes with YOUR basic civil liberties.

Since it's property, it's even MORE fundemental a right from an economic perspective than something like free speech.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690541)

theres no reason for the carrier to never release the handset. Here in sweden they must provide unlocking codes for a subsidised handset after the initial 12/24 months of the contract. They are however allowed to charge a small administrative fee of max 300SEK/$45.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690889)

theres no reason for the carrier to never release the handset. Here in sweden they must provide unlocking codes for a subsidised handset after the initial 12/24 months of the contract. They are however allowed to charge a small administrative fee of max 300SEK/$45.

Oh they have a great reason to hamper unlocking efforts. Since they do not support old phones with updates. (read: phones over 1 year old), users of smartphones are forced to buy a new phone and sign into a contract or unlock it themselves.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690579)

The problem is, the DCMA shouldn't be settling this, the MARKET should be. If i default on a subsidized phone, its a civil matter, take it up with the courts.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690653)

The problem is, the DCMA shouldn't be settling this, the MARKET should be. If i default on a subsidized phone, its a civil matter, take it up with the courts.

You are correct that it's a civil matter, but incorrect that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act doesn't apply - it also includes civil infringement and penalties. But yes, the cops shouldn't be coming after you.

You may be confused by the submitter's use of "illegal" - that term refers both to criminal acts and non-criminal acts that are still violations of the law (trademark infringement, patent infringement, parking in a handicapped zone, etc.).

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690733)

The key term in GP's post is "should": the DMCA shouldn't be settling this, but it is. There's quite a lot of things that the DMCA shouldn't be doing, in my opinion, but nobody asked me at the time.

even with a contract you should be able to roam wi (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690693)

even with a contract you should be able to roam and put in a local sim that costs way less. Hell some systems let you rack up $5000-$10000+ in roaming fees and still don't cut you off.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690725)

In the US you have to pay the same amount for service whether you're subsidising a handset purchase or not, right? That doesn't seem like a great incentive to buy outright.

Meanwhile in Europe, where we have oversight of our telecoms industry, almost every carrier offers unlocking even during the contract for about £25 and you can get super-cheap service-only tarrifs everywhere. I'm on uncapped data and a decent amount of calls and texts for £15, using a nearly three year old iPhone.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690415)

Everything you buy is not yours.

Well said Jackie_Chan_Fan a/k/a Carmen Ortiz, but you also forgot to mention that taking something that is free is still stealing.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690421)

Except that your not technically buying it, your purchase is subsidised by the contract.

Re:Establishes that you do not own your hardware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690661)

and at the end of that contract i have paid for the phone, but it is still locked.

Nameless burocrat makes law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690347)

Welcome to Soviet Union.

Re:Brainless burocrat makes law. (1)

netwarerip (2221204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690375)

Fixed that for u.

due tell...here, here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690427)

....

Re:Nameless burocrat makes law. (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690473)

Actually this is the result of the removal of a law. They added an unlocking exemption to the DMCA and have chosen not to renew it. The DMCA's so broad-reaching that they had to enumerate lists of things you were allowed to do because otherwise many entirely ordinary activities would've become illegal.

Re:Nameless burocrat makes law. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690787)

The law was made 10 years ago, but Im glad youre paying attention now.

Well, I'll be breaking the law then. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690351)

The times where you could live and not break any law are long since gone anyway.

Fuck this government (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690879)

Fuck this government, I'm buying guns and ammo tomorrow.

'at a discount' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690353)

I don't think that's how it works.

So what? (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690359)

This will stop absolutely no one. Just like to stopped no one before there was an exemption.

Seriously is that for real (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690591)

This will stop absolutely no one. Just like to stopped no one before there was an exemption.

...and is not the point, removing a right of ownership over something your have bought to do with as you please...and who is to say it will be possible going further...we have the same Apple users begging the government to remove their privacy, by permanently linking a phone to a person.

Wait...under contract? (5, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690371)

"after 1/26/13, for any new mobile phone you purchase, you'll have to fulfill your contract, or break the law to unlock it."

That doesn't make sense. You own it or you don't. I own my iPhone, but in return for a reduced price I have agreed to use the carriers service. If I do not fulfill my agreement the penalty is financial, not the return of the merchandise. I don't even have to use my iPhone to fulfill the agreement.

Also, if you break the decryption, you break it. What if you agree to an upgraded OS version and it installs - is that now software obtained after the date of prohibition?

Clarification, anyone?

Re:Wait...under contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690449)

Was my first thought too. Very odd rule. I'm definately not a lawyer, but I'd think either the DMCA applies or it doesn't and it wouldn't have anything to do with the service contract - unless maybe the service contract had a clause that basically said "Thou shalt not modify this device for the duration of the contract", but then I'd still think it'd fall under contract law and not DMCA.

In other words, I'd think the contract would be fulfilled by maintaining and paying for service, not based on how you use the device with that service.

WIth all that said, DMCA is a very poor law (from a consumer stand point), and it very well might be a violation of it to jailbreak any phone if it has built in measures to prevent such that need to be circumvented.

Re:Wait...under contract? (5, Interesting)

Platinumrat (1166135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690567)

In Australia, the carriers are obliged to provide a service to unlock your phone, regardless of how long your contract has to finish. They can charge a nominal fee, if you're still in contract. The phone's yours regardless of the subsidy. You still have the choice, under the contract, of cancelling it early and then having to pay an early termination fee.

Re:Wait...under contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690753)

In Chile the carriers cannot sell locked phones, and they were forcedto unlock for free any phone previously locked if the client wanted.
In fact, when you get a phone with a cellphone plan, you have 2 contracts, one for the product (the phone) and other for the service.

Re:Wait...under contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690493)

It's already Apple's iPhone, not yours.

Re:Wait...under contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690505)

In Australia you can ask the carrier to unlock the phone when:
1 - The user pays the difference between the contract value and the unlocked phone cost (generally the amount is pro-rata based on the remaining contract duration)
2 - The contract period has lapsed (no cost)

The service portion of your contract is linked to your SIM card, not the handset. There are valid reasons to unlock the phone such as upgrading to a new handset (it is easier to sell / repurpose the handset if it is not locked to a single carrier.

Re:Wait...under contract? (1)

Platinumrat (1166135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690633)

You are incorrect for option 1. You pay a fee to unlock, if you're still under contract. Unlocking, doesn't terminate the contract. I unlock every phone I buy, under subsidy, because I travel overseas a lot. If it wasn't unlocked, I wouldn't be able to purchase local sim cards to put in the phone.

iPhone cattle explicitly agree to a limitedlicense (1, Insightful)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690511)

I own my iPhone

No no you don't. Aooke have pretty much been anti-consumer for some time with EFF and others trying to keep the option of jailbreaking legal (Its still illegal on your iPad)

This is back from 2010 http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/feds-ok-iphone-jailbreaking/ [wired.com] The PDF about Apples responce and basically jailbreaking does this,

"Crashes & instability
Malfunctioning & safety
Invasion of privacy
Exposing children to age-inappropriate content
Viruses & malware
Inability to update software
Cellular network impact
Piracy of developers’ applications
Instability of developers’ applications
Increased support burden
Developer relationships
The Apple/iPhone brand
Limitation on ability to innovate"

It also says your breaking Licence agreements and copyright infringement too as well as well as DMCA anti-circumvention

Boycott Apple products...Its not like there are mass of better value alternatives.

Re:iPhone cattle explicitly agree to a limitedlice (2)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690589)

This has nothing, zero, nada, nil, to do with jailbreaking.

It refers to the sim unlock that enables you to use the phone on a carrier other than the one who sold you the phone (eg, AT&T).

Again, nothing to do with jailbreaking in the slightest.

Don't let facts get in the way of a good Apple bash though.

everything to do with jailbreaking (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690763)

Don't let facts get in the way of a good Apple bash though.

As someone who owned a iPhone locked to the O2 to service in the UK, and had to *jailbreak it* to use on an alternative network, what do you think they are going lock the phones down with a padlock.

I am sorry if your favourite mega-corporation treats its customers like cattle

Re:everything to do with jailbreaking (-1, Flamebait)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690809)

Don't let facts get in the way of a good Apple bash though.

As someone who owned a iPhone locked to the O2 to service in the UK, and had to *jailbreak it* to use on an alternative network, what do you think they are going lock the phones down with a padlock.

I am sorry if your favourite mega-corporation treats its customers like cattle

You did? How odd. I also own an iPhone on the O2 network in the UK and didn't have to jailbreak it to unlock it.

Anything else you want to lie about?

Re:Wait...under contract? (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690607)

You're describing how it should be, not how it is.

The firmware of a mobile phone is covered by copyright law. The copyright holder in virtually all locked phones has implemented an Access Control Mechanism, per the DMCA, that prevents anything but the official copyrighted firmware from being programmed into a locked phone. That copyrighted firmware does not allow access to other carriers other than the carrier the phone was subsidized by.

In order to unlock the phone, either an official lock code is required (which may be obtained unofficially, and whose legal status if obtained unofficially is dubious) or the firmware needs to be replaced, the latter of which would require circumventing, in some shape or form, even if it's via an EPROM programmer or whatever the devil it is you young people use to write firmware these days, the ACM.

That's where the DMCA comes in. Do that, and you're facing four years in the slammer, just as you would if you did the infinitely more evil and just downright despicable action of building your own DVD player. I hope they throw away the key...

Yes, it's stupid. The whole ACM thing is stupid.

Re:Wait...under contract? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690625)

"after 1/26/13, for any new mobile phone you purchase, you'll have to fulfill your contract, or break the law to unlock it."

That doesn't make sense. You own it or you don't. I own my iPhone, but in return for a reduced price I have agreed to use the carriers service. If I do not fulfill my agreement the penalty is financial, not the return of the merchandise.

That would depend on what the contract that you agreed to says. If the contract says that the penalty for breach is transfer of ownership of the phone back to the carrier, and you agree to that contract, then yeah, penalty is return of the merchandise.

Re:Wait...under contract? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690819)

Early termination: if terminated in the first 30 days, I return the phone for a full refund; after 30 days there is a prorated fee ($350->0 over 20 or 24 months probably, I didn't verify). Pretty standard language - this isn't some payday lender phone.

the article is actually uncertain...they've quoted someone as saying that only the user (i.e. you) may unlock the phone. This sounds exactly like the DMCA - you can decrypt for fair use* or for interoperability, but you may not assist anyone in doing so. In other words, you have to do it all by yourself. If someone else helps you, they get into trouble. It's all kind of weird, since the unlocking they're talking about is specifically to allow interoperability of the device/software on (otherwise) compatible networks other than the original carrier.

*Not really true...you may not decrypt, but if you do it for a use considered fair use than you may use that as a positive/valid defense for doing so. a very backhanded exemption, but an exemption nonetheless.

Re:Wait...under contract? (1)

rjr162 (69736) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690799)

So where's the law requiring carriers to unlock phones after the contract period is up?

Yes Sir. (1, Funny)

expending (2823627) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690383)

Land of the Free, home of the Brave.

Re:Yes Sir. (0)

mariox19 (632969) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690407)

You're not free to buy a subsidized phone in return for agreeing to a service contract and then cheat the other party.

Re:Yes Sir. (3, Informative)

dugancent (2616577) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690459)

You're not cheating the other party. You're still under contract whether or not you use the phone and either have to keep paying or pay the termination feee.

Cheat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690507)

How is unlocking the phone cheating?

Are you not paying for the phone?
Are you not paying for the data plan and voice minutes?
Are you not paying for the service?
Are you somehow reducing the providers revenue?

Unlocking the phone allows me to use it for my purposes with greater flexibility. It does not cheat the provider in any way whatsoever.

Walk slowly (1)

mvar (1386987) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690401)

- "...away from your phone with your hands behind your head" - "But officer..." - "Anything you say can and will be used against you"

Re:Walk slowly (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690503)

I've never understood the "can and will" part.

Especially the will part.

How can (e.g.) giving an alibi be used against you?

Surely they mean "may" not "will".

Re:Walk slowly (2)

ixidor (996844) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690711)

this is a video by a lawyer, and a cop. they explain it better than i could. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc&noredirect=1 [youtube.com] he talks a progressively more un-likely scenario where client tells cops absolute truth, including an alibi. that is then used to get them in trouble. so yes in today's thug police world "can" not "may"

Re:Walk slowly (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690897)

I've never understood the "can and will" part.

Especially the will part.

How can (e.g.) giving an alibi be used against you?

Surely they mean "may" not "will".

I remember listening to a lecture from a lawyer that explained the rationale. I apologize that I can't explain exactly why it says will, but he gave a good explanation for the wording.

I don't know if it was part of the 'Never talk to the police' series that's pretty popular on youtube, but that's the one that keeps popping into my head.

Antigua Unlocking Service stock soars (5, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690403)

You heard it here first, folks.

along with (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690571)

the AntiguaNetflix association of movies and music....
the AntiguanLevi's pants corporation
etc....
and i heard homer got a headband
ANTIGUA RULES

Abuse of the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690425)

The DMCA is the Digital Millenium *COPYRIGHT* Act. Its purpose is to prevent hacking to circumvent copy protection. Since unlocking a phone has nothing to do with circumventing copyright, the DMCA shouldn't apply. It's an outrage. Probably lobbyists again trying to change the law for the sake of pushing their commercial agenda. The law shouldn't work that way!

Good thing I don't actually live in the US.
Problem is that other countries like to copy the US. This is why we can't have nice things

Phone firmware is copyrighted (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690535)

Since unlocking a phone has nothing to do with circumventing copyright, the DMCA shouldn't apply.

That ship sailed in 1998 when the DMCA was enacted into law. The digital lock on a phone's copyrighted firmware controls access to the copyrighted firmware.

Good thing I don't actually live in the US.

It irks me when people post "sucks to be you" comments to Slashdot without providing an option for those negatively affected by regulatory capture, such as a guide to navigating a saner country's immigration system.

Re:Phone firmware is copyrighted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690761)

It kind of does suck to be you :P Glad we have the EU looking out for us here (at least unless Cameron gets his way and we end up exiting the EU and living in a capitalist-biased country ourselves - one can only hope the opposition become electable again before that happens)

One option might be to be as vocal about consumer rights as all the Righties are about "it's the American Way, companies should be allowed to screw you as much as they want, you don't HAVE to buy a mobile phone" and all that bollocks.

Dear AT&T and Verizon... (1)

emil (695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690431)

Please consider this action your invitation to take the FBI tracking devices that you peddle and shove them up your fiscally tight posteriors.

There is no one that I want to talk to so much that I will put up with this abuse.

I hate this country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690453)

God I hate this country!

Why is it so freaking difficult to immigrate to Europe?

Re:I hate this country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690619)

Because they hate this country too and want to make sure you don't go there to vote.

Re:I hate this country (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690687)

I'm sorry, but you're in idiot if you think this doesn't happen in Europe. The universal complaint I hear from family living in various European nations is that their governments do whatever the hell they want regardless of the desires of the people. Sometimes it works in favor of the people, but usually it doesn't. For all the problems with our government at least the people still feel like they have a tiny change of shaping policy.

It's not difficult at all to immigrate to Europe if you've got the balls to do it and can prove you can earn an income. But their immigration policies do tend to be more strict than America's. Think at least on par with the sort of thing Arizona was excoriated for. Which is kind of ironic considering even some Europeans got on their high horse about it.

Re:I hate this country (0)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690729)

not to threadjack or anything (you started it!), but you can't possibly mean that the social utopias of Europe actually enforce immigration laws while expecting us to not enforce ours, do you?

Reason number 2384788104 (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690481)

Why the DMCA is stupid.

We have warned about Obama effect! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690585)

Now the big companies does what they want to do... we are losing our rights. That has to change!

So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690599)

If an unlocked phone is legal to posses, but illegal to personally perform, they are essentially legislating to protect carriers from people who from buy at discounted prices and then cancel the contract. This is stupid because:

1. People who buy subsidized phones and cancel immediately must pay the full early termination fee. If this is really such a problem that we must legislate against it, why don't the carriers just raise the price of phones or ETF so they break even?
2. If I buy a phone on a 2 year subsidized contract, and then terminate service after the contract is fulfilled, I now have a tool which I paid full price for (remember, the phone subsidy is more than made up by the outrageous costs of plans) but can no longer use.
3. Oh, and who is going to be enforcing this, and how will they plan on doing so? My guess is no one will really be actively enforcing this law, which means most people will be getting away with this while a couple unlucky people will be singled out, not because they are breaking the law, but because someone wants to punish them individually.

travellers (1)

Dionysus (12737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690603)

So, what happens when you need to travel out of the country during your contract time? Do they give you the unlock code, or are you forced to be roaming costs?

Re:travellers (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690833)

Do they give you the unlock code, or are you forced to be roaming costs?

Do you really have to ask? If they give you the unlock code, they're providing the first tool in walking away from their service. (After that is the early-termination fee, but if you're the mobile company, why settle for one manacle (anti-termination contract language) when you can have two? (contract plus technical measures restricting carrier portability))

Whereas in the second case, not only are you still safely chained to the carrier you contracted with, but you'll dance to their tune and pay their roaming charges, and YOU'LL LIKE IT!

Or, more likely, buy a PAYG phone at the airport and use that. But then your own carrier is still getting your $xx per month, and you're not using any of their bandwidth. Free money!

we the people? (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690611)

I'm surprised this issue hasn't been tossed out onto a We the People petition?

Although recently we've seen a few of those used for stupid things (death star) as well as being flat out trampled on a few times with responses that basically said "we don't feel like telling you that", it would still be nice to see it out there.

DCMA is stupid (1)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690627)

FCC should allow unlocking of phones after the subsidy period is completed (essentially rent to own) and there should be a usury limit on exactly what the effective rate of interest is, because, as a previous commenter pointed out, that is what is going on.

also offer good roaming costs or yet you unlock fo (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690719)

also offer good roaming costs or yet you unlock for roaming out side the usa.

Re:also offer good roaming costs or yet you unlock (1)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690853)

Were it up to me I would require makers to offer a sim replaceable version of their phones, because other wise it is an attempt to leverage a monopoly. When we get out of carbon dependency, we can tax resource countries be means other than austerity or seigniorage, when we can tax the global wealthy, there will be no need to allow concentration of corporations and concentration of control (which is what most wealth is) and at that point we can go back to a small is beautiful capital system.

Freedom is possible, slavery grows out of the exhaust pipe of an internal combustion engine.

Re:DCMA is stupid (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690817)

This only affects unlocking during the contract period.

Personally I buy unlocked phones and use them on a pay as you go plan anyway. All the junk the phone company puts on your phone is unacceptable to me.

Re:DCMA is stupid (1)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690865)

However that period represents a usurious interest rate, the second part (of not allowing a monopoly price) is as important as the first, which needs to be set in stone.

So, let me get this straight... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690641)

I purchase a phone, with my money. It's in my house. I own the phone. I own the house. It's illegal for me to make a particular modification to a piece of hardware that I own, on my property. Is that what this law is saying?

Aside from the fact that I will never purchase an unlocked phone again, and the market for said unlocked phones will skyrocket, I'm skeptical that this little example of corporate/feudalistic dictatorial overreach is going to stand up to court challenges.

Not necessarily what it seems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690651)

Based on the opening paragraph, unlocking only seems to be illegal if you violated copyrighted content through unlocking. Problem is how they're defined. What the hell does "certain classes of works" mean? Way too vague and open ended.

"The Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, has determined that the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that effectively control access to copyrighted works shall not apply to persons who engage in noninfringing uses of certain classes of works."

In Brasil we can (1)

arthur_c_azevedo (1136669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690697)

I dont understand USA carriers, in Brasil you can unlock your phone anytime, the carriers have the contract to keep us "lock" to them for 1 year. And ANATEL (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_Agency_of_Telecommunications) established a few years ago that every cell phone must be unlocked, because, one more time, the carriers have the contract to keep us "lock" to them for 1 year. And in Brasil 2 years contract for carriers become illegal.

Jailbreak != Unlocking (3, Informative)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690701)

Jailbreak = breaking the OS protection to perform operations not sanctionned by the phone manufacturer/integrator
Unlocking = breaking the radio layer protection to use the phone with another carrier

Both are "breaking" which is a concern for the DMCA but both had "waiver" as part of the DMCA. Now, the later does not have a waiver any more.

Your phone is locked when you get it at a reduced price in exchange for exclusivly using it with the carrier that sold it to you. It is locked to its network. Unlocking a phone yourself was breaking the promise you personnaly made to the carrier. If you are not fine with having your phone locked, you can either buy it unlocked but for a bigger price, or ask the carrier to unlock it, usually free after a (long) time or for a fee.

Unlocking? (1)

seven of five (578993) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690707)

I don't get the issue.
Unlocking just lets you use the phone with a different carrier than the one from which you bought it. It's not jailbreaking.

Contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42690757)

What about the people on prepaid service? There's no contract. Does that mean I can unlock it as soon as I purchased one that is locked to a carrier?

Another theft of individual liberties (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690795)

This is just another case of government stealing individual liberties from people. It's your phone, whether they like it or not. How is it a GOVERNMENT issue, why is the government able to STEAL individual liberties from people to sell that power that gives control over these liberties to the highest bidder?

That's the problem - government has destroyed your individual liberties, it is tyranny, and this is just a small example of it.

Mohamed Bouazizi was a 26 y.o. Tunisian who burned himself alive because of government oppression, he became the trigger for the people removing the oppressive tyrannical government from power.

Aaron Schwartz was a 26 y.o. American who killed himself because of government oppression, where are all the people with guns, you have the 2nd amendment, you have more guns than Tunisians, you are SUPPOSED to remove tyrannical oppressive regime from power, what is going on?

But is it.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42690863)

.... illegal to unlock a new mobile phone purchased after tomorrow 3 years later, *after* the contract has expired?
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