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FCC To Investigate Cell Phone Unlocking Ban

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the more-the-merrier dept.

Cellphones 65

Edgewood_Dirk writes "In response to the recent White House petition, the FCC will be investigating the viability and possible harm of the ban on cell-phone unlocking. Gregory Ferenstein met with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at a TechCrunch CrunchGov event Wednesday, where the Chairman said the 'ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns.'" This line from the end of the article fails to inspire confidence: "Genachowski isn’t sure what authority he has, but if he finds any, given the tone of the conversation, it’s likely he will exert his influence to reverse the decision."

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maybe check out FCC.gov (5, Insightful)

zlives (2009072) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050525)

""Genachowski isn’t sure what authority he has"" I refer him to http://www.fcc.gov/what-we-do [fcc.gov] and specifically to

" Promoting competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services and facilities;
        Supporting the nation’s economy by ensuring an appropriate competitive framework for the unfolding of the communications revolution;
        Encouraging the highest and best use of spectrum domestically and internationally;
        Revising media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism;
        Providing leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation’s communications infrastructure."

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050557)

also if they have no authority and can't get anything done, get lost and give me my tax dollars back.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050683)

also if they have no authority and can't get anything done, get lost and give me my tax dollars back.

Ah no, sorry. That is the one authority they do seem to have...taking your tax dollars while granting you to do...well, nothing about it.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051365)

Why aren't you demanding the useless fucks in congress give you your tax money back since it seems they can't get anything useful done? If the FCC have no authority to do this then we need an amendment to the law to make locking cellphones illegal, and that is something the congresscritters should be sorting out, well they shouldn't have allowed the DMCA to pass in the first place when it did stupid things like making it illegal to unlock your cellphone.

The FCC do actually do useful work even if they have no authority to do anything about this issue.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (2)

bratwiz (635601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052301)

>> "Why aren't you demanding the useless fucks in congress give you your tax money back"?

The only problem with that is it would require those self-same useless fucks to get up off their larded arses and DO something.

Question: How do you starve a member of Congress?

Answer: Hide their paycheck under their WORK boots.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050561)

None of which indicates what legal recourse he can take in the instance.
That's what he is talking about.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050663)

you are completely correct. however,
like AC already wrote, if they can't do shit, they can gtfo
and give taxpayers the $350million dollars back.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (0)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050735)

like AC already wrote, if they can't do shit, they can gtfo
and give taxpayers the $350million dollars back.

No, actually, while it may not be clear whether or not the FCC has the authority to regulate cell phone locking/unlocking, its pretty clear that the FCC doesn't have the authority to decide to disband or to redistribute appropriate funds to individual taxpayers.

For either changing the jurisdiction of the FCC, or abolishing it and doing something else with the funds, you need action by either a majority of each house of Congress (and, in practice, at least the acqueiscence of a full 3/5 of the Senate), or by 2/3 of each house of Congress if the President disagrees.

(Of course, the question of the jurisdiction of the FCC isn't a choice between "dealing with cell phone unlocking" or "nothing".)

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43052821)

Except the ban is coming from the Library of Congress. Why they have the authority to do so...I don't know. FCC would make more sense. But, not sure why Obama's new consumer protection administration wouldn't have a say, either.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43073323)

The ban is a consequence of the DMCA. The Library of Congress had been previously been excepting cell phone unlocking from DMCA restrictions.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050897)

None of which indicates what legal recourse he can take in the instance.
That's what he is talking about.

Well they seem to rewrite FCC regulations at will when they want to swap frequencies or ban certain devices. Usually with no change in the law.

Why are they investigating the effects of "ban on cell-phone unlocking." Why aren't they investigating a BAN on Celphone Locking? Several other countries have such a ban. Why do we allow such locking anyway? The carriers have your credit card, they have a contract, why do they need a lock on on your phone?

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051031)

Because a customer with mandatory adware and spyware on their phone is more valuable than one without.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051251)

Because a customer with mandatory adware and spyware on their phone is more valuable than one without.

You're confusing locking with rooting.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051529)

I think he is talking about how all the carriers sell phones loaded with crapware and if it was simple to get rid of, like say "push this button to load cyanogen mod"? Most would do so.

But I think this ultimate goes to a deeper problem with cellphones in the USA, and that our system is set up all distorted. From what I've been told the rest of the world simply buys their phones and then chooses their carrier and plan, no different than how you buy any PC and then choose the ISP in your area that offers the best deal. Contrast this with the USA where they simply give you the phone and make more than double their money on the cost of the phone with their frankly shitty plans.

With the price of ARM SoCs falling like mad there really isn't a point to keep the current system except that it lets the carriers have captive audiences and make crazy money. I have to wonder if that isn't why pre-paid plans and phones are exploding, folks aren't getting tired of getting boned and would rather have contract free phones instead. I know I'm seriously looking at the Walmart unlimited (yes I know its actually 2GB per month, I don't use a smartphone for anything other than GPS and other basics so that is fine) because frankly the data plans in my area suck price wise and with that I can just buy an Android phone and call it a day, just buy a card every 6 months and not deal with carrier bullshit or extra crap on my phone.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051293)

Why are they investigating the effects of "ban on cell-phone unlocking." Why aren't they investigating a BAN on Celphone Locking?

Because a "ban on cellphone locking" is what we have, so its what it is necessary to examine the effects of.

A ban on cellphone locking would be a potential remedy, if the results of the investigation were that cellphone locking had effects so bad that it needed to be prohibited as a practice.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051409)

Because a "ban on cellphone locking" is what we have, so its what it is necessary to examine the effects of.

Ok, I took a different english course than you.

We have a ban on cellphone unlocking since the librarian of congress terminated the exception to the DMCA. It is now illegal to unlock your phone. Unlocking your phone is banned.

There is no ban on locking your phone. Almost every carrier does it.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050623)

Hah, that's rich.

You and I know his authority is based on how much money carriers are willing to spend lobbying to keep cell phone locking legal.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050657)

Genachowski isn’t sure what authority he has"" I refer him to http://www.fcc.gov/what-we-do [fcc.gov] [fcc.gov] and specifically to

The scope of legal authority of a regulatory agency is not, surprising as it might seen, "everything that might plausibly fit within the description the agency provides of its general function on its website."

Whether or not an agency has the legal authority to take action on a specific question which it has not previously addressed is something that the head of the agency might want to consult with the agencies legal staff before stating. Its, IMO, quite appropriate for Genachowski to acknowledge that he is unclear on whether the FCC has authority in this area if that has not been examined.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (1)

bbelt16ag (744938) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050859)

can't the FCC go to obama and ask him to do something? or the congres?? why sit there and pee in their pants on this? if they are so inept and weak on the subject of protecting consumers the perz and congress should whipe the floor with them and disband them like grand parents said. If they are looking for funds they need look no further then the FCC, rip it out of their ass and roll royces..

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051233)

If Congress has never passed a law which grants the FCC the authority to regulate whether or not a cell-phone provider can ban users from unlocking cell-phones, than the FCC has no authority to intervene. It very well may be that the FCC would need to go to Congress to request such authority. Of course in that case one would hope that Congress would consult the Constitution to see whether or not they had the authority to grant the FCC such authority (I also know that Congress would not do so). I am not commenting either way on whether or not the FCC or Congress has such authority.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (2)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051323)

I'm thinking they just need to only authorize unlocked phones to use the frequencies that the phones use. This way they are not mandating the phones be unlocked. The carriers can sell all the locked phones they want. The FCC will simply stick to their authority of deciding what devices are authorized to use the radio spectrum.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051259)

can't the FCC go to obama and ask him to do something? or the congres??

Well, it would be pretty dumb to ask the President and/or Congress to change the FCC's existing authority with regard to this issue that they have not previously concerned themselves with without first ascertaining what their existing authority is and whether or not it is sufficient for any action they feel it is necessary to take.

why sit there and pee in their pants on this?

The head of the FCC stating at the beginning of getting an assignment to look into an issue that he isn't, without having yet explored the issue, sure what authority the agency has to take action on the issue isn't the same as wetting their pants.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051235)

""Genachowski isn’t sure what authority he has"" I refer him to http://www.fcc.gov/what-we-do [fcc.gov] and specifically to

" Promoting competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services and facilities; Supporting the nation’s economy by ensuring an appropriate competitive framework for the unfolding of the communications revolution; Encouraging the highest and best use of spectrum domestically and internationally; Revising media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism; Providing leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation’s communications infrastructure."

Let me highlight that for you.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43055349)

Let me highlight that for you.

That's just some website. Please highlight the lines from here [cornell.edu] or here [cornell.edu] . This is a matter of law, not PR.

Re:maybe check out FCC.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43052843)

That is a mission statement, not a delegation of authority.

the FCC has all the authority it wants (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#43055559)

the way you gain authority, remember, it to use it. a court or a mob may signal if you overreach. but since all radio wave communications is regulated by the FCC, as well as commercial broadcast, and considering that the operation of cell phone systems is licensed in the public interest, convenience, and necessity, ol' Frank Charlie Charlie can do whatever they want, up to and including seizing equipment, levelling a fine every time carrier comes on, and jailing people found in violation of regulations.

The FCC has done similar before. (5, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050545)

The FCC has done a lot of similar things, say for example mandating that cable companies can't sell boxes that don't include a cablecard, or requiring all cable companies to permit self install of cablecards.

What would stop them from outright forbidding cell phone locking?

Re:The FCC has done similar before. (5, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050671)

What would stop them from outright forbidding cell phone locking?

Regulatory agencies are empowered by specific positive grants of power. The appropriate question is "what would allow them to...", not "what would stop them from..."

Re:The FCC has done similar before. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052207)

They were empowered to regulate to promote competition, and did so in a substantially similar circumstance before. If they do not have the power to ban cell phone locking, then they shouldn't have had the power to ban the cable card locking. Besides, they *do* explicitly have the power, as they set the rules for use of the frequencies, and usually have "best interest" clauses in there. An announcement that "any phone sold by a carrier locked to their network is a violation of their terms of use of those frequencies" will stop the practice immediately. Nobody would risk having their frequencies disappear, and they did sign terms to that effect.

Re:The FCC has done similar before. (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050673)

What would stop them from outright forbidding cell phone locking?

Money

Re:The FCC has done similar before. (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050919)

LOL... the cause of and answer to all of life's and the government's problems...

They already likely took money from these carriers and the lobbying groups to fuck up the legal state of phone unlocking... what's a bit more gonna hurt?

Re:The FCC has done similar before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43052059)

Well i think your right there, after all I find it a little odd that this is in place at all. For years this was not a law and the cell phone carriers, distributors, and manufacturers did just fine. No one cared, then they pass a law, we the people get upset, and they suddenly have to evaluate how undoing this law after a month of it being in effect is going to effect the market? What is this "evaluation" going to cost? Who is going to pay for it? How can we be sure that it is fair and unbiased?

Besides this effects the carriers, and thanks to previous presidents the entire phone industry is a cartel. Which means they all work together to ensure prices are as high as possible, while giving the appearance of competition. This if anything is an additional barrier added to prevent start-up cell companies from being created, if they have no phones they can use then there is no way they can make money. If they can't make money then they don't have to worry about them. It's not like there are no current barriers such as, limited tower space and cost, frequency limitations, protocol licensing, etc... The only way this can be considered is anti-competitive, preventing consumer choice, and another nail in the coffin of start-ups that this country so badly needs.

Re:The FCC has done similar before. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052291)

Well there's a lot of money in cableco only leased cable boxes. Seriously, those damn things are expensive to lease, and the cable lobby is pretty strong too.

Who's harm? (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050587)

FCC will be investigating the viability and possible harm of the ban on cell-phone unlocking.

Possible harm to customers or to the mobile providers?

There is very little to investigate -- if I don't explicitly seek out an "unlocked" phone, even the phone that isn't subsidized may be locked by the providers. Why isn't that strictly illegal already?

Re:Who's harm? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050777)

Why isn't that strictly illegal already?

I agree the law prohibiting it should not exist, but it is not the disaster many make it sound like. Both are available. If you don't want a locked phone, buy an unlocked one! I have no intention of ever buying a locked phone, but thankfully almost every model I've looked at including the latest, most modern phones, are available unlocked. Unless that situation changes, and I really doubt it will, this doesn't seem like a huge problem.

If people buy locked down shit, and you get what they deserve.

Re:Who's harm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050943)

If you don't want a locked phone, buy an unlocked one!

I do, thank you, but many people do not understand what they are buying into.
"If you don't want to buy poison milk, buy non-poisonous milk!"

Oddly enough, there are still laws on the books that make selling poisonous milk illegal.

If people buy locked down shit, and you get what they deserve.

Maybe make providers stamp the phones (e.g., "This phone is crippled so that you can only use it with Verizon"). At least then it will be an informed choice.

Re:Who's harm? (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052123)

If people buy locked down shit, and you get what they deserve.

You are, like the people who figured that it was acceptable to lift the dmca exception that permitted cell phone unlocking until a couple of weeks ago, on the grounds that there is currently a respectable availability of unlocked phones for consumers to utilize anyways, failing to realize the perhaps less than immediately obvious unintended consequences of outlawing the unlocking of new cell phones.

In creating laws which protect locked cell phones from being tampered with by consumers, the system ends up creating an incentive (however slight) for cell phone providers to actually distribute locked cell phones, usually in place of unlocked ones, so that the distributors can enjoy whatever additional benefits that the legal protection actually offers. It's the same problem as with outlawing the breaking of encryption on copyrighted works... the lawmakers end up supporting a particular business model or technology that may not actually reflect what consumers really want. And because providers of such devices have been given some additional incentive to distribute such locked devices, the availability of unlocked devices will gradually start to decrease over time, ultimately leaving a consumer with little to no choice but to either purchase a locked technology, or else ultimately simply not be be part of the technologically advanced culture at all.

Re:Who's harm? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050847)

In the US, unless the box explicity says the phone is not locked, then it is. Being simlocked to a specific carrier is "the default" condition in the US, regardless of if you elect to pay full price up front or not.

Ergo, if you waltz into the ATT store, and see that sexy samsung galaxy smartphone, and whip out the 600 to 1000$ to pay for it, the clerk will reach behind the counter, pull out the box, and hand it to you. The box says nothing about it being carrier locked. But it is. Take it to a T-mobile store and try to get service, and it will not accept the SIM.

This means you have to ask the store clerk to unlock it for you at the time of purchase, or unlock it yourself.

This happens because wireless carriers in the USA abuse monopolistic conditions to get "exclusive handset offerings".

What does that mean? It means you can only get $FooPhone from $CarrierA. Use $CarrierB? Oh, sucks to be you! Only $CarrierA has that phone!

[Poignant example: iphone. Not an ATT customer? Oohhh... sorry, but no. Unlock it? What? Whatever for!? No, if you want the iPhone, you have to use ATT. We have spoken! (Thank god that got torpedoed by the librarian of congress making the unlock provision. Forced the issue of popular phones being servicable outside of the exclusive sale agreements the carriers dreamt up. Now that provision has expired......)]

As long as the "default condition" of phones sold in stores is "carrier sim locked", then we need the power to override that restriction when not under subsidy.

Personally, I would rather see all handsets be presented "carrier unlocked" by default, with the carrier locking occuring when the sale's clerk transfers your phonebook for you, assuming you are on a subsidized plan. That way, you can walk in, buy a phone outright, and go anywhere you want and get service. (As long as its the right tech of course, clearly a gsm phone won't work on verizon, and vise versa, et al.)

The power for the customer to do that is exactly what the telecom companies want to prevent, because it means they have to do more than be the sole provider of iShinies to get and retain customers.... like say, actually having desirable service options.

Publicity stunt (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050609)

Like all things coming from the White House Petition Site, this is an opportunity for the President to appear like he is in touch with the common man. Expect an official looking executive directive and a press release from the relevant agency. After that... We'll see.

Re:Publicity stunt (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050655)

You people are idiots.
The Whitehouse create a way to get more public input, and the acts on it, but no, no one is ever happy.

Re:Publicity stunt (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050669)

Get me a working budget first, then let's worry about the next big internet petition.

Re:Publicity stunt (3)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050801)

He was right the first time. You're an idiot. Getting a working budget is the job of congress and they aren't gonna do anything to help the Whitehouse. Something like this is more in line with the executive branch, but if it really makes you feel better to blame our ruined budget on something other than 2 unfunded, unjustified wars and corporate welfare, then by all means go ahead and point the finger...

Re:Publicity stunt (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050875)

Supposedly the House of Representatives is responsible for spending bills so why should petitioning the President mess that up?

Re:Publicity stunt (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050729)

As soon as I see one of those "public input" things being seriously discussed (and I don't mean a publicity "see, we are talking about it" stunt on C-SPAN) and not just laughed off in the cafeteria, we can start talking.

Re:Publicity stunt (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051207)

As soon as I see one of those "public input" things being seriously discussed (and I don't mean a publicity "see, we are talking about it" stunt on C-SPAN) and not just laughed off in the cafeteria, we can start talking.

How about, actual policy directives in response to one [whitehouse.gov] , which goes beyond even "being seriously discussed".

Re:Publicity stunt (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051923)

Now if only they could do something similar with something more serious (such as the TSA). The way they handled the TSA petition was simply comical.

Re:Publicity stunt (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062689)

Except that the majority of the government backed researchers already make their data available to the public. So your example isn't as great as you think it is.

Re:Publicity stunt (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43069553)

Except that the majority of the government backed researchers already make their data available to the public

A substantial share of government-backed research is done by the agency which already had the mandate that the petition sought to extend to other agencies.

So what?

So your example isn't as great as you think it is.

Its a perfect example of the response to a petition exceeding what GGP asked for with regard to seeing of the petitions being at least "seriously discussed". You should probably not post based on unwarranted assumptions about what people think.

Re:Publicity stunt (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050731)

Agreed, "Take 'Yes' for an answer guys." This is one of the more positive results from a WH petition.

Even if the FCC doesn't act on cellphone unlocking, when the FCC Chairman is on record saying the "ban [on unlocking] raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns," that's got to be worth some points at next year's LoC DCMA-exemption hearings.

Re:Publicity stunt (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050733)

The Whitehouse create a way to get more public input, and the acts on it, but no, no one is ever happy.

We will see, of course, but the response record is pretty spotty so far. And the reviewing authority stating that "he is not sure what authority he has" does not inspire much confidence.

Not many petitions get as much as a thoughtful response ("Build a Deathstar" was one of the best written, that says something). I believe the "acted on" petitions are in single digits - and not any of the controversial ones.

Re:Publicity stunt (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051007)

Spotty? I think the word you were looking for is shitty. I have yet to see a response that was actually worth a shit. I have signed several petitions too, including this one. Every single one of them had to have been a god damn joke. The many petitions from the time the site went up calling for an end to the drug war and the legalization of marijuana and hemp all get pretty much the same government anti-drug propaganda bullshit that they've been spewing for decades while claiming to be based on "scientific facts," and each petition even received the same exact response. I don't really expect it to get any better, but what the hell--if on occasion I hear about a petition of something that interests me, it's a quick log-in and "Sign Petition" click away. Password to that crappy site is stored anyway. Eventually I'll probably give up--maybe once I get a new computer and don't bother to remember/store my password.

Re:Publicity stunt (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051635)

Because they think that because 100k people out of 300million are unhappy with this ban Obama should immediately order a drone attack on the guy who did the banning and then send CIA kill teams in to wipe out the leadership of every wireless carrier in the country. Anything less than that and they will be unhappy with his response to this. Of course had he done that they would then complain about how he is ignoring the constitution.

The reason we have such crappy lying politicians is because the USA is filled with such an abundance of morons, unhappy even in victory, that no honest politician with conviction and ethics could ever hope to gain any real power. Even if by some miracle such a politician was through sheer force of ubermensch like will able to gain power, they could never hope to accomplish anything of note.

Re:Publicity stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051915)

Of course had he done that they would then complain about how he is ignoring the constitution.

How's it feel to be complaining about an imaginary group of people?

And those 299,900,000 people don't necessarily agree with this decision, either; they're just apathetic or don't even know about it.

unhappy even in victory

What victory?

Re:Publicity stunt (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052217)

Announcing they are "thinking" about something is not action. That is one of the complaints. The announcements are about the perception of action, but do not seem to contain actual action.

Wrong branch (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050995)

Not much use petitioning the Executive Branch anyway. The directive (not actually a law, but authorized by a law, and so has the force of law) came from the Librarian of Congress. I'm going to guess he's Legislative Branch. After all, his title even has "Congress" in the name. In other words, the Office of the President has no authority over him.

Which goes a long way towards explaining the wrongheadedness of the decision, and should give a fine hint as to exactly what the FCC Chairman can expect to do about it. (Nothing.) Any time your freedoms are curtailed, you can reliably trace it back to Congress. (Yes I know that's almost a tautology, considering the structure of US government, but it makes for a good sound bite.)

Re:Wrong branch (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051285)

Which goes a long way towards explaining the wrongheadedness of the decision, and should give a fine hint as to exactly what the FCC Chairman can expect to do about it. (Nothing.)

The fact that the Librarian of Congress can issue a directive making it illegal under the DMCA for consumers to unlock phones that have been locked by providers does not mean that the FCC can't issue an order under its authority with regard to telecommunications prohibiting wireless vendors from locking phones in the first place, which would render the issue of a DMCA exemption allowing unlocking locked phones moot.

Asking the FCC to investigate and explore possible action is, in a sense, more than the petition called for (as it called on the President to ask the Librarian of Congress to reverse the decision and, failing that, lobby Congress to take legislative action to reverse the LoC action.)

Re:Wrong branch (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43053003)

The Librarian of Congress issued an EXEMPTION under the DMCA essentially spelling out "you cannot make a DMCA claim against people and other entities with regards to phones." That exemption expired.

Now in addition to the big carriers benefiting from this expired exemption, who would be the pedestrian violators of this under the DMCA? Well, the geek crowd to be sure, but more importantly, it would be the smaller operators who resell mobile services to people at bargain prices. This has reduced the efficiency by which the carriers rape the consumers. Many consumers are wising up and leaving their contracts for pre-paid service and bringing their expensive smart phones with them. You know, those over-priced carrots they use to draw consumers into a two-year committment prison?

So you see, this is yet another abuse of the DMCA to abuse consumers in ways "not intended."

Someone shoudl craft a petition to have the DMCA repealed. It is as simple as that. It is frequently abused and used to abuse others. It's just bad law.

Re:Wrong branch (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43053695)

The fact that the Librarian of Congress can issue a directive making it illegal under the DMCA for consumers to unlock phones that have been locked by providers

The LoC did not make unlocking illegal.
The default status of cell phone unlocking is 'not legal'

The LoC allowed for an exemption to the law and then decided not to renew that exemption.

FCC IS GUILTY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43052127)

The FCC is front and center in the core of the ban; they desperately want it, the White House (agencies within) desperately want it, the State Department desperately want it, the Department of Defense desperately want it the CIA desperately want it, the Department of Justice (what a joke of a name) desperately want it, the Department of Interior desperately want it.

With so much desperation within the US Federal government no wonder that the 'Sequesteropalas' is a dead and deaf issue.

Obama should just pen another 'Secret Executive Order' and start killing US citizens, his most hated of enemies.

Because an Unlocked phone is not a copyright issue (2)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052989)

Perhaps I simply lack the imagination. Perhaps someone here could offer up a reasonable rationale as to how a carrier locked phone is protecting ANYONE's copyright? You understand this is being done, apparently, under the DMCA.

The carriers have no copyright over which carrier I use.

Now if they are talking about rooting a phone and loading custom firmware? That's a different matter. Because as we know, "media" such as flash drives, recordable CD/DVDs and such have been the target of pre-emtive fines/taxes which presume people will use them for violating someone's copyright and these measures are meant to compensate the largest of the copyright NPEs. (I love that -- NPEs: Non-Practicing Entities. They don't create music or art... they just buy it, limit it it and control it. We should all start calling the copyright houses copyright NPEs to better identify how they contribute to the arts.)

But that's the thing about phones. The software/firmware is a part of the functional device. The software/firmware is copyrightable... but also patentable... it is erasable... replaceable. The software which carriers peddle contains things which the consumer has no interest to say the least and often arguably serves to harm the consumer. It is not about copyright as much as it is controlling the device and the consumer by extension. This exceeds the intent and purpose of copyright AND the DMCA.

You must be new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43053381)

You silly boy. The DMCA is not about protecting copyrights. It's a tool (weapon) to be wielded about to stop you from doing whatever the corporations (whose bill the DMCA is) don't want you to do.

Re:Because an Unlocked phone is not a copyright is (2)

compro01 (777531) | about a year and a half ago | (#43056171)

The DMCA prohibits bypassing "access control measures", in this case, carrier locks that control access to cell networks. There is no requirement that they be controlling access to copyrighted material.

Reason $BIGNUM why the DMCA is a horrible law that should have been strangled in the crib.

Napalm bait: People of USA are too stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43053243)

Napalm bait: People of USA are too stupid.
That is why US politicians have decided the stupid people
of America are allowed to carry guns but not carry
unlocked phones around.

Imagine the consequences of walking around with
unlocked phones. You could kill someone if you
threw it hard.

You people don't (yet) own the phones being locked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43053393)

I don't understand why all you whiners about all of this cell phone locking don't understand the issue here. So read my lips...

You don't own that phone.

Let me say it again, in case you missed it:

You don't own that phone.

You people who are buying subsidized phones are buying them on credit, no different than taking a loan out to buy a car or a house. In all of those cases (phone, car, house), you don't own what you took the loan out to buy until you have paid the loan off. Anyone who has had a house or car repo'd can explain that to you.

So, if you want an unlocked phone, save up for it and pay for it up front. If you can't afford to buy that overpriced iphone or whatever else with cash, up front, then sadly, you cannot afford to own a phone and don't get the rights that come with phone ownership. You should have stayed in school.

Re: You people don't (yet) own the phones being lo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43053691)

You are an idiot. The issue here is that it's illegal to unlock a locked phone without the carrier's permission EVEN IF it was paid for up front or you have finished paying for it via a contract. Do try to pay attention.
.

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