×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

White House Petition To Make Unlocking Phones Legal Passes 100,000 Signatures

timothy posted about a year ago | from the one-view-of-freedom-of-choice dept.

Cellphones 317

An anonymous reader writes "A White House petition to make unlocking cell phones legal again has passed the 100,000 signature mark. Passing the milestone means the U.S. government has to issue an official response. 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.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

317 comments

2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (5, Interesting)

F34nor (321515) | about a year ago | (#42967525)

Break them up or replace them with a state run monopoly. Discuss.

Option 3 (5, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42967619)

Create a new amateur license class, that allows individuals to run 4g networks; encourage cooperatives, meshes, and other citizen-run communications systems. Give the spectrum the carriers have to the people and let us manage our communications without relying on monopolies.

Re:Option 3 (5, Insightful)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#42967869)

Give the spectrum the carriers have to the people

We already own it - not that that's stopping these sociopathic parasites and their paid liars in Congress from renting it back to us at top dollar...

Re:Option 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967969)

This should work fine for texting where latency is not really an issue and messages can be passed from node to node until they hit their destination. (With all of the problems of mesh networks presented in defcon presentations. Flooding, spoofing, etc.) But then... can't you already do TTY over amateur radio?

Re:Option 3 (4, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42968095)

can't you already do TTY over amateur radio?

You can get Internet access of amateur radio if you want, there are plenty of people doing digital stuff. Here's the problem: you cannot do any commercial. That means that you cannot even browse Google, since it would transmit advertisements over an amateur band. A secondary issue is that everyone has to be licensed to transmit on amateur bands, and so most people would never be able to use it. Also problematic is the callsign requirement, which would make it much harder to use things like Tor. There are also regulations that make cryptography useless on amateur bands.

The problems with citizen-run communications are mostly regulatory. There are technical issues, but they pale in comparison to the regulations standing in our way.

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967643)

In USA they sucks.. In France, compagny must allow user to unlock their cell phones...I think this is because laws does not restrict lobbyist enough

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (1)

F34nor (321515) | about a year ago | (#42967703)

In Europe don't you buy the phone at retail prices? Why would it be locked at all?

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967849)

In Europe don't you buy the phone at retail prices? Why would it be locked at all?

A minority does so. Standard practice is to buy the phones under a multi-year contract, heavily discounted. Still, in most countries, the buyer can unlock the phone when he wants for a fee that (at least in some of those countries) decays as the phone ages.

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968137)

In USA they sucks.

I know. Is total sucks.
You no speak the English goodski, da?

still a monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967749)

The com companies didn't mamke the law, the paid the state to do it. If we give the state a monopoly and then stop paying attention, they will subcontract it to one private company, that pays them to pay them like the defense industry. If we don't stop paying attention and hold our government accountable, then we don't need to send it state run in the first place. The combination of the two party system with make or break issues like abortion, tax/spending policy, and gun control mean that we never hold anyone accountable. Fix that and we are on the path to fixing everything.

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967781)

Break them up or replace them with a state run monopoly. Discuss.

Non issue. It's not illegal to unlock your phone, it's only illegal to unlock a phone which you have signed a contract which says you can't unlock it. And all the contracts I've seen only prohibit unlocking when you've bought a subsidized phone, and they all allow for unlocking once you've fulfilled your contract.
Don't like it? Then don't buy a $400 phone for $99 with a 3 year locked-in contract.

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968503)

Contracts are already enforceable by law. What is the point of putting this into another law?

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968005)

Break them up or replace them with a state run monopoly. Discuss.

I'd post a response, but the PC I'm on isn't authorized by my ISP.

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (4, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | about a year ago | (#42968059)

Because state-run monopolies are famous for low prices, excellent customer service, and being at the forefront of technological advance.

Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968149)

Break them up or replace them with a state run monopoly. Discuss.

Yeah, that's what we can do! We'll break up the phone company! I'm certain we've never tried that before, because if we did, that would've solved the problem forever and the individual parts would never slowly recombine over the course of a few decades! But we'll need a good nickname for these smaller companies... hm... maybe we can make a reference to Alexander Graham Bell... while also acknowledging that these are smaller, almost child-like versions of the mother company... maybe "Bell Babies"? Yeah, that'll work.

And a state run monopoly would be ridiculous and immoral. Why pay the evil liberal evil liberal government of evil evil liberal evil liberals (they're evil and liberal, you know) an extra dollar in taxes when we can pay a heartless corporation eighty dollars for the same thing? Don't be silly.

We should not need a petition (5, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42967553)

Why is the government protecting a business model that is based on selling equipment at a loss?

Re:We should not need a petition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967669)

Because if we unlock them we maybe able to find whatever spyware that the government is having placed on them.

Re:We should not need a petition (1)

spongebue (925835) | about a year ago | (#42968127)

This type of unlocking is referring to being able to use a phone on another carrier, not rooting.

Re:We should not need a petition (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42967721)

Why is the government protecting a business model that is based on selling equipment at a loss?

In business, it's called a loss leader.

But don't worry, they'll more than make up for it with the price gouging which takes place over the term of your contract.

But, really, this comes down to "do I own the phone or does the phone company". If I own it, I should be able to do anything I want with it. If I don't own it, WTF am I doing paying for it?

Right now companies want to have this mixed model where I pay for it, but they tell me what I can and can't do with it.

Re:We should not need a petition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968143)

If I don't own it, WTF am I doing paying for it?

Right now companies want to have this mixed model where I pay for it, but they tell me what I can and can't do with it.

Bingo: maximize control and minimize costs at all costs. They can keep their product and carefully control that product right up their rectum for free as far as I'm concerned.

Re:We should not need a petition (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#42968227)

In business, it's called a loss leader.

Yeah, sure, unless the government doesn't like you, then it's called dumping.

Re:We should not need a petition (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42968419)

Yeah, sure, unless the government doesn't like you, then it's called dumping.

Yeah, but that's only if you're undercutting your competition.

Since the carriers are all doing the same thing, it's more like collusion.

Re:We should not need a petition (5, Insightful)

F34nor (321515) | about a year ago | (#42967741)

It is always cheaper to buy a congressman than to be a better business. Telcos are oligopolies; the worst form of business for the consumers. From that basic cluster fuck all other pain flows.

Re:We should not need a petition (1)

ZipK (1051658) | about a year ago | (#42967747)

Why is the government protecting a business model that is based on selling equipment at a loss?

Because they're not selling equipment at a loss. They're not even selling equipment - they're selling a bundle of equipment and a service contract. And the price of equipment + contract > the cost of equipment + service. And early termination fees protect their investment.

So...locks are unnecessary (4, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#42968009)

No, they're selling equipment. After 30 days, it's yours according to the contract - at least it is for the one I signed. I pay for the equipment, and the State agrees that it is a sale at the offered price - charging me sales tax. I have a service agreement which states if I choose not to keep the equipment I have to give it back for a full refund within the first 30 days, after 30 days, I am required to keep the phone.

Nonetheless, you've just made the point that locking/unlocking is unnecessary. I quote, "And early termination fees protect their investment." Which is exactly the point - the contract with my provider states that I will keep in force a minimum level of service for 2 years in return for the reduced purchase price. If I break the contract , I owe them $350 (prorated per the schedule).

Locking is an unnecessary and burdensome business practice which should be illegal, and is instead enforced as a result of a law which was - by it's nature - not intended to apply to physical transactions.

Re:We should not need a petition (1)

CaptNoobius (2828637) | about a year ago | (#42967791)

Exactly.... so this is a petition to essentially ask the government to use legislation to change US carriers to the European carriers business model (higher costs for phones but lower monthly rates). Admittedly it is kinda of crazy that there would be a law locking down your phone to carrier... but we are either going to get cheap phones (at a loss to the carriers) or the up front price will go up. If the law does not pass..... it would be fun for awhile watching carriers still trying to undercut each other while the phone prices increase. How fast that happens should be forever labeled as the "Collusion Interval".

Re:We should not need a petition (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year ago | (#42968093)

What this petition is doing is asking the White House to get Congress to repeal a law they passed to make the act illegal.

Re:We should not need a petition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968233)

The president actually had to sign the bill to make it law.

Re:We should not need a petition (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967885)

in Europe, you buy a phone unlocked at full price.

either that or you buy it as part of a contract. it is then subsidized and locked to that carrier, but after a year the cell company must provide an unlock code.
The subsidized phones are just a form of loan, because in the end you pay at least the full price. So they don't sell it at a loss, because they expect to keep you to pay off the loan in monthly service charges.

subsidized phones are almost always branded and sometimes run a modified version of the stock firmware.

if you don't want that, just buy it unlocked. sim-only is dirt cheap, with a lot of MVNO's competing, you get at least twice the airtime for the same contract without subsidized phone.

Cellphone companies suck even more (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#42967563)

See the packages offered by companies in Canada. It's even worst up here. There's obvious collusion on prices and services offered and the CRTC doesn't do shit about it.

Re:Cellphone companies suck even more (1)

smg5266 (2440940) | about a year ago | (#42967631)

Weather and cell phones seem to be the only reasons for an American to not move to Canada (and BC weather is probably better than a lot of areas in the US)

Re:Cellphone companies suck even more (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#42967815)

FIY, when you see weather on TV, remember that you guys use the old imperial system and we use metric. There's no 32 degrees drop at the frontier line.

Nothing will happen (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#42967571)

The Obama administration, no matter how many accusations regarding some sort of "Socialism" get lobbed at it, is a *corporatist* White House. It's only slightly less corporatist than the Bush Jr and Clinton admins.

Nothing will happen. The corporate cheerleaders and know nothings thinks this somehow protects corporations from the great unwashed.

Re:Nothing will happen (1, Interesting)

F34nor (321515) | about a year ago | (#42967801)

Attack their strength was Karl Rove's motto, little has changed. Basically anything the right wing says in taking points is the opposite of what they believe. Truthiness is king.

Remember economics is not a science.
The US is oligopoly in natural monopolies.
Regulation bows to the regulated.
Cash is king.
It is cheaper to buy a congressman than to fix your business.

If one of those didn't answer your "why is this business fucking me" questions I'd love to know,

Re:Nothing will happen (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42967887)

Something might happen. People have short attention spans and are easily distracted by something shiny but worthless. Look at how Obama fooled people into thinking he was strong on civil rights by ending Don't Ask Don't Tell. One tiny concession to a small fraction of a small fraction of society, and he's the greatest civil rights leader of our generation. Forget how his administration treated Bradley Manning, Thomas Drake, etc. Forget how he never even tried to close Guantanamo. Forget how he signed a bill suspending habeas corpus, etc, etc.

This cell phone business could work out the same way for him. Cell phones have been unlockable for a couple years already, and it hasn't terribly hurt the cell phone industry. Obama could easily give the people what they want here, the cell phone industry won't be hurt badly, and Obama gets to look like a populist instead of a corporatist. These petitions are nothing but a PR tool, and this is an easy PR win for Obama.

Just don't expect him to take any action on anything that actually matters. (e.g. Cannabis reform, prosecutorial reform, ending private prisons, getting the US out of the middle east, etc).

Re:Nothing will happen (1)

Velex (120469) | about a year ago | (#42968063)

Why did you feel you needed to bring up ending Don't Ask Don't Tell? How is that even a /civil/ right?

I had considered enlisting when I was younger, but I didn't because I knew that the military would not be a friendly environment for me (read my other posts for why). Don't Ask Don't Tell didn't violate my civil rights.

It was progress however.

Obama's record on civil rights is clear. I would like to know why you felt you needed to bring Don't Ask Don't Tell into this.

As you pointed out, what his administration does as far as legal cannabis in Washington and Colorado will be very interesting, and I expect to be disappointed.

But that's why I vote Libertarian.

Re:Nothing will happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968275)

Theeere's the response I came into here expecting to see.

Of COURSE nothing is going to change. Cell companies have tons of money. Consumers don't. End of story.

Re:Nothing will happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968515)

The Obama administration, no matter how many accusations regarding some sort of "Socialism" get lobbed at it, is a *corporatist* White House.

That's because the entirety of American politics is corporatist, and built on the belief that profit should come before anything else.

If you're still laboring under the belief that your government is anything else but a bought and paid for entity, just look at any laws and treaties which are written by the entities who it benefits or is supposed to regulate.

When the copyright lobby writes the copyright laws there's no way to win. When the polluters write the pollution laws, and the banks write the banking laws, you're screwed.

But your politicians seem to think it better to aim for a smaller government whose sole job it is to enforce contracts and profits.

Will they respond? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967589)

I'm still waiting on a response from the Westboro petition.

You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (3, Interesting)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42967663)

Oh, you want it unlocked AND dirt cheap....Well, pick one.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42967695)

What I want is this:
  1. I buy a phone
  2. I do whatever I want to it
  3. I tell other people about what I did

What we have now is this:

  1. You buy a phone
  2. The government steps in and makes sure that the carriers' business model is not threatened by unlocking
  3. Dare to tell others how to unlock, or do it for them? Go directly to jail, the government collects your money.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42967821)

No, what we have now is:

You go to buy a phone
Carrier offers you the unlocked version for $600 or the 2-year contract version for $150
You buy the $150 model
For the next two years you bitch and moan because you can't unlock the phone and switch carriers.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42967983)

For the next two years you bitch and moan because you can't unlock the phone and switch carriers.

Oh, I'm sorry, I must have missed the technical problem with unlocking the phone. When last I checked, it was a legal problem, which is the point of the petition.

See, we "bitch and moan" because we bought a phone, and then the government told us we are not allowed to do what we want with the phone. Then people like you come in and say, "Well the carrier gave you a discount because of X, Y, Z" and we think to ourselves, "Yes, we bought it at the price the carrier offered to us. So what?"

You know, in market systems, when someone sells something at a given price and you buy it at that price, you are generally free to do whatever you want with it afterwards. If you do not want a market system, then stop pretending to have one and just create a government-run cell network like other countries have.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (4, Informative)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42968067)

See, we "bitch and moan" because we bought a phone, and then the government told us we are not allowed to do what we want with the phone.

No, you bought a subsidized phone under a contract. You're free to unlock it as soon as you fulfill that contract, or you're free to buy the unsubsidized/unlocked version in the first place and never enter the fucking contract in the first place.

What you're asking for is to have your cake and eat it too. If you want freedom, BUY THE UNLOCKED PHONE!

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42968203)

You're free to unlock it as soon as you fulfill that contract

You must have missed the news: that changed. Now you are not free to do so, because distributing the tools or knowledge needed to do that is a DMCA violation. It's OK, I'm sure being trapped in a freezer since 2011 was rough for you.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42968393)

All the major U.S. carriers will unlock after contract and the DMCA provides a specific exclusion for "legacy" phones (i.e. off-contract).

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968301)

See, we "bitch and moan" because we bought a phone, and then the government told us we are not allowed to do what we want with the phone.

No, you bought a subsidized phone under a contract. You're free to unlock it as soon as you fulfill that contract, or you're free to buy the unsubsidized/unlocked version in the first place and never enter the fucking contract in the first place.

What you're asking for is to have your cake and eat it too. If you want freedom, BUY THE UNLOCKED PHONE!

It would be different if there was a unlocked version of every phone or if the early termination fee wasn't already a remedy for breaking contract. The phone companies are the ones that want to have their cake and eat it too. Learn to think before you SHOUT.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about a year ago | (#42968305)

Your comment deserves to be posted right below the summary. If folks did get the government to force carriers to only provide unlocked phones, say bye bye to paying for a pricey phone over time. Everyone will be stuck either paying full price or leasing the phone and never owning it. The only thing that should be required of carriers is that once the contract has reached its end date, they unlock the phone. I believe the bigger US carriers already do that.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968399)

How about I fulfilled and ended the contract 6 months after it began by paying the early termination fee when I moved to an area where the carrier had crap service coverage and I wanted to use my phone with a local carrier that did have good coverage?

What YOU are saying is that EVERY phone that is out of contract is forever tied to the carrier that sold it, which is BS.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (5, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#42967985)

Replace "for the next two years" with "for the next infinity years".

The anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA makes it illegal to ever unlock the phone without the carrier's permission, regardless of whether the contract is up or not.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968375)

Replace "for the next two years" with "for the next infinity years".

So what if it's changed such that it still remains illegal for those two years, but is legal past that and the cell phone companies are legally required to quickly give you the tools/firmware updates to do so on request? Would you be happy then?

I seriously doubt you would.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (2)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42968459)

The major carriers will unlock after contract and the DMCA has a specific exclusion for legacy phones.

And of course, once again, no one made you a slave to begin with. YOU agreed to the terms. YOU had the option to buy the more expensive unlocked version. YOU are the cheap-ass who decided to buy the subsidized one.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (5, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#42968043)

Sure, but just to make sure we're clear on this point, when I sign that two-year contract, I actually bought the phone. I'm required to pay sales tax on the full, unsubsidized price of the phone up front. And if I bought the phone, I should be free to use it how I want. The contract is in place to make sure I don't jump carriers without adequately compensating my current one, and it already suffices. Why we need to add an additional technological roadblock that increases friction between switching carriers is beyond me.

Actually, no, it's not. What the carriers want is to increase friction so that they can lock you in even after your contract is up, so it's no surprise things are this way. But the government stepped in a few years back to help ensure that phone numbers can be transferred between carriers, and they need to do the same here, ensuring that phones themselves can be transferred between carriers, barring any legitimate technological limitations.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42968197)

I actually bought the phone.

Yeah, just like you actually bought your house. But the mortgage company still makes you send them money each month, requires you carry insurance on it, and would be pretty pissed if you tried to burn it down.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42968261)

Except that you did not take out a loan to buy your phone. You bought it at the price the carrier offered. The law says you cannot unlock the phone regardless of your contract, even when your contract expires, even if you pay the carrier the extra fee to cancel the contract, even if the carrier goes out of business. Stop trying to pretend that people are being offered a fair deal here; a fair deal is one in which you can buy something and do whatever you want with it.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42968485)

a fair deal is one in which you can buy something and do whatever you want with it.

Yeah, that's called BUYING AN UNLOCKED PHONE, and you can do it at pretty much any carrier (and on just about any model phone) in the U.S.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968089)

The lock is a feature difference between two models? So according to consumer protection laws in the USA these are actually different SKUs?

Oh they're not?

So what you're saying is there is no difference between them aside from the fact that doing X on one "version" isn't a felony while doing X on the other version is?

I suppose this means life imprisoned or the death penalty should I choose to terminate my contract early and sell my locked phone...

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968131)

I still don't see why a phone on contract should be locked. In the UK I could buy a subsidised phone with a contract and move it between carriers as much as I want. Of course I would still be under my contract with the original carrier and have to keep up those payments (or pay an early cancellation fee) regardless of what I do with the phone.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968135)

Umm, you forget the point where I still pay the full monthly price for the subscription even though I own my own phone. Also, last time I went to a carrier and said I had my own phone, they said two things: 1 year contract and must have data plan.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967941)

Honest question - I thought that unlocked phones currently fit the first category? You know, the ones you buy at cost rather than the reduced price + contract deal.

If not, what am I missing?

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (3, Interesting)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year ago | (#42967783)

When you buy a phone via a contract, over the term of that contract you pay for the discount (and more). Therefore, even if you purchase a locked phone, after the contract is up it would be fair to allow it to be unlocked. In fact, since breaking a contract and switching companies is always accompanied by a large fee, "dirt cheap" never applies. The only situation in which an unlocked phone would be useful as a current customer is travel. And in that case you are still a current customer, so the phone company is still getting their desired value for the phone.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42967935)

The law in question specifically states that it's only illegal to unlock your phone during the contract period . After that, you are of course free to do what you want with it. This petition is for cheapskates who want to buy subsidized phones, but not fulfill their contract.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (4, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#42968091)

This petition is for cheapskates who want to buy subsidized phones, but not fulfill their contract.

There are already mechanisms to penalize people who do not fulfill contracts. So not unlocking a cell phone for that reason is unnecessary.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#42967829)

What I want is the government out of the business of protecting private contracts. Where do I sign up for free government lawyers?

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#42967959)

What I want is the government out of the business of protecting private contracts.

Uh, that's one of the primary functions of the entire U.S. civil court system, and has been for hundreds of years now.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967835)

Why should i have to pick. If i get an unlocked phone for cheap i'm still under contact with the phone company. unlocking the phone doesn't negate the contact. Isn't that the whole point of an early termination fee. Say i buy a phone from Sprint and since its unlocked user it on AT&T's network instead. Why the hell the sprint care i'm still paying them the contact fee every month or breaking the contact and paying them back an early termination fee, they are losing no money.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#42968497)

Last I checked (which WAS a while ago) you can't use Sprint phones on AT&T. Different frequencies, and I don't THINK Sprint uses SIM cards.

A better analogy would be buying a phone on T-Mobile and then using it on AT&T. They share enough frequencies and both use SIM cards.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967865)

Nexus 4. Unlocked, cheap and fucking awesome.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967895)

The point is that I should have the option to buy Manufacturers X model Y phone in both variants both subsidized and locked and unsubsidized and unlocked.

Not all phones are offered as unlocked.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968025)

Oh, you want it unlocked AND dirt cheap....Well, pick one.

This reasoning is invalid. The contract early termination fee covers the cost of the phone. Though, you can get around that fee by sticking with two carries til the end of the contract, but that's just plain stupidity.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

rtkluttz (244325) | about a year ago | (#42968217)

This argument is always brought up but it is BS. Cancel your contract early and you pay full price, run to the end of the term and you've paid full price subisidized by the super high monthly bills we have in the US. Either way we paid full price and their our phones. I'll do whatever I like with my equipment.

Also someone further up mentioned loss leaders in business. If Ace Hardware offers me trash bags and garden hoses at a 20% loss just to get me in the store in hopes that I buy something else while I'm there then great. They take a chance that I will come in and buy a garden hose and leave. Its still my damn garden hose. Suck it cell phone providers.

Re:You know, you can buy an unlocked phone (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#42968299)

Or go to Europe, where phone unlocking is almost without exception available from your own network provider for a token fee.

Ep!"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967677)

everything 3lse the mundane chores Or a public club, this post up.

whiny, ignorant and greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967679)

You lot are selfish, whiny, ignorant and greedy when it comes to US public policy or law issues.

These petitions are totally meaningless from a legal standpoint; they are nothing but leftist oriented feel-good propaganda and accomplish exactly zero in the real world.

Congress makes laws, the executive enforces them (and that means ALL OF THEM not just the ones Obama likes, which is exactly what he does), and SCOTUS, oh fuck off I won't even bother to explain that one to you.

All we see in these petitions - and this post, amount to nothing but drones bitching and moaning about the latest media spoon fed fad.

And you lot just suck it all up like so much government cheese.

What a bunch of wankers.

Re:whiny, ignorant and greedy (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year ago | (#42967863)

Congress makes laws, the executive enforces them (and that means ALL OF THEM not just the ones Obama likes, which is exactly what he does), and SCOTUS, oh fuck off I won't even bother to explain that one to you.

That's the framework from which we are gradually shifting to one in which the president makes the laws, enforces the laws, and in secret without recourse to contest the president's decisions, rules on whether you broke the laws and metes out arbitrary punishment. In a decade or two, the courts and congress will have completed the process of relinquishing all their powers and will be mere vestigal organs of the US goverment whose sole purpose is to rubber stamp presidential policy.

Re:whiny, ignorant and greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968481)

Forgot your meds today?

Oh a petition that will change my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967697)

I get the premise of what the people are doing with the petition but if they did something more proactive like write their Senator rather than just anonymously sign a petition online more would come of this.

Pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967701)

LOL You guys have to jump through these ridiculous hoops just to be heard by the people you elected?
 
Once again the american brand of mock-Democracy is exposed as the sham it really is.

LOC is Outside White House Juresdiction (1)

Koreantoast (527520) | about a year ago | (#42967713)

Can the White House even do anything in this particular issue? After all, the Library of Congress, as the name implies, reports to Congress and the Legislative Branch and not to the President and the Executive. Certainly the White House could try and lobby Congress to push a change, but given the current relationship between those two branches of government, I don't think there's much incentive to play nice.

Official Response (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967775)

And the official response will be: "We'll do whatever we want. We don't work for you." Just like all the rest of these petitions.

Re:Official Response (3, Funny)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#42968285)

Oh really? I guess you missed Obama's announcement yesterday that the Feds are going to build a giant Death Star in orbit around the Earth...

Effectiveness of the petitions? (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#42967817)

Is anyone tracking how many of these petitions result in actual policy change? It seems most get a canned response explaining the Administration's position. I don't recall any responses that said, "that's a good idea, we'll go do it" or "we've added that to our legislative agenda."

Re:Effectiveness of the petitions? (1)

Talennor (612270) | about a year ago | (#42967945)

The attention is pretty effective for 100K people. What are you looking for? Immediate policy changes? 100K isn't exactly a majority (150M is!).

Re:Effectiveness of the petitions? (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#42968501)

Depends on the scope of the petition. For things like reforming Social Security I am not expecting a policy decision to get made based on 100K signatures. For much narrower issues like this one, where the executive branch has authority to act without consulting Congress, I think we deserve an answer more like "The President has passed your petition along to the Librarian of Congress and directed him to reconsider this regulatory change. You can expect a press release explaining his final decision within 90 days."

This petition won't make a lick of difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967855)

When the issue of marijuana legalization came up on the white house petition, the administration brushed it off with a canned response.

Expect no different here.

Clarification (5, Informative)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#42967859)

On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S

I don't have a big problem with that, but this is the really important part:

As of January 26, consumers will no longer be able unlock their phones for use on a different network without carrier permission, even after their contract has expired.

Re:Clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968017)

Sounds like collusion by proxy!

Why bother? (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year ago | (#42967897)

Seriously, Obama talks a great game about a transparent government by the people, for the people.

But from what I can tell, the petition website is, at best, a case of him failing to follow through on his aspirations. At worst, it's meant to give the American public a false sense of being listened to.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968155)

And while people scramble and beg to hopefully maybe perhaps please get one particular exception in the DMCA extended, they tend to forget that the whole DMCA is beyond insane and should be repealed completely. Dance, monkeys, dance.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968359)

Yeah, I often wonder what happened to all of the promises of a transparent government. They've even had groups of people (WikiLeaks, Anonymous, sloppy internal processes) helping them with it and they constantly fight against it. I don't know about you, but I'm starting to think that the politicians were telling us stuff just to get our vote. What is this world coming to?

Pointless? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42967965)

Have any petitions posted on http://petitions.whitehouse.gov ever resulted in legislation/legal/governmental changes?

I've seen the site posted a few times on /. but always discarded it as some pointless area for people to vent or make entertaining posts to. Making some White House PR group respond to a petition is one thing but does anything useful actually happen after a significant response? I'm asking earnestly because I honestly haven't followed it.

If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.

I interpret that as: White House PR staff will read it, pass it along to someone that understands the issue and can put together a B.S. response, said PR staff polish the response off, respond, pat everyone on the back because nothing is going to result from the petition, and send the petitioners on their way.

Circular Pricing (2)

ggpauly (263626) | about a year ago | (#42968119)

The industry argument I've heard is this: "Consumers" (ie, people) buy phones at a discount with multiyear contracts. This pricing scheme was developed by the industry to trick people (it's easier if you think of them as soulless "consumers") into continuing to pay the corporation despite abusive customer service, poor service, and fraud such as inaccurate coverage maps. Then the industry turns around -- pretending as if they've given a gift to the "consumers" who are living, breathing people with lives and kids and jobs and problems, sometimes involving money and cell phones -- and claim that they, the corporations, deserve to be rewarded by keeping control of the phone in violation of the common understanding of what "sell" and "own" mean.

And the Librarian of Congress somehow agrees.

Secondly, the regulated freedom from last year's Congressional Librarian decision seemed to be having an effect - why then reverse the decision?

Lastly, we should recall that corporations are _not_ free enterprise by definition - they are given special government dispensations to protect their owner(s) against liability. We (people) ultimately pay this price - a hidden tax. Corporations must be held to a particularly high level of good citizenship or their grants of liability immunity should be revoked. Else they will treat us (people) as objects that provide money to them, as a herbivore treats plants.

I think I'm going to switch providers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42968183)

I'm on Virgin Mobile now (owned by Sprint) and they've been cool, but I've been wanting a smartphone with the cheapest monthly rate... they've got the $35/month with unlimited data, but I've been reading Ting's blogs...

This one was recent: https://ting.com/blog/unlocking-smartphones-becomes-illegal-kinda-sorta-and-not-for-ting-customers/

They take the stance that as long as you pay them for what you use, they don't really care what you do with your device. Hell, they've got links to software in the official forums to allow you to modify your ESN/MEID and other aspects of your phone. (But, if you brick your device or ruin its programming, you get to learn how to fix it...)

Any advice?

A few businesses might want to sign that too. (2)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about a year ago | (#42968343)

I know there's a handful of companies (one of which I'll be switching too soon) that advertise unlocking your phone and joining their cheaper service.
But hey, they're not the big 4, so what does the government care, right?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...