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News: Starting Today, It's Illegal to Unlock Your Cellphone
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Old 01/27/2013, 05:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Just read this article and thought about how this affects the market in many ways. I could have posted this in a few different forums, but figured it would be best in this one as the future of webOS will definitely include people moving devices around carriers (not to mention simply using a Pre2, Pre3, or Veer on another carrier).

NEWS:
As of today (1/27/13) it is illegal (in the US) to unlock devices to use on other carriers.
Yep... you read that right. Here's the article:
It's Now Illegal to Unlock Your Cellphone - ABC News

Excerpt of article:
Quote:
You likely have a cellphone that you bought from a carrier, like AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, and that phone only works on that carrier's cellular and data network -- unless you "unlock" it.

That is a software process that allows the phone to work on other carriers if you put in a new SIM card or want to take the phone to another carrier for service.

If that sounds complicated to you and like something you wouldn't bother with, then today's news won't matter to you. But if that's something you've done before or have thought about doing, then you should know that starting today it is illegal to unlock a subsidized phone or tablet that's bought through a U.S. carrier. .......

(see link to article for the rest of the story)
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Old 01/27/2013, 05:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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land of the free......
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Old 01/27/2013, 06:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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I've never been a pundit... but I'm really getting sick of the government trying to control the free market. If carriers don't like people unlocking subsidized phones - simply stop subsidizing them. If carriers feel they are losing money, they know how to plug the holes in their own boat instead of forcing the passengers to do the work. Let the market iron itself out instead of passing laws that take rights away. You learn these lessons in college Freshmen economy 101 courses. /rant

Anyhow... <sigh>
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Old 01/27/2013, 06:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It'll be nice to see how the phone recyclers will fare... Chances are there's a loophole involving change of ownership and shipping phones outside the country
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Old 01/27/2013, 06:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It says it's illegal in the USA. Still legal here in Canada.




The things that make you go hmmm......
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Old 01/27/2013, 06:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Yes... this is just a US law. So unlocking a AT&T phone to use on T-Mobile would now be a crime.
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Old 01/27/2013, 06:19 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by HelloNNNewman View Post
Yes... this is just a US law. So unlocking a AT&T phone to use on T-Mobile would now be a crime.
which makes me laugh tbh, hearing something like this classed as a "crime".
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Old 01/27/2013, 06:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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bevcraw pointed out to me that Jerry over at our sister-site, AndroidCentral, wrote a good article explaining what is going on with this new law.

What you need to know about cell phone unlocking | Android Central

(thanks Bev!)
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Last edited by HelloNNNewman; 01/27/2013 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 01/28/2013, 06:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by geekpeter View Post
which makes me laugh tbh, hearing something like this classed as a "crime".
Yeah, but it's not only in the USA. A few carriers here in The Netherlands have been also doing this for the last 8 months.
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Old 01/29/2013, 02:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Although I'm not favouring criminalising of unlocking phones, I think everyone is still free to buy a phone without subsidy and get a SIM. If you buy a phone heavily subsidised by a carrier's I guess it's reasonable that adhere to their rules (within reason and for a certain defined time period) for using it.

Same if I get a loan for a car, can't just sell without paying back the loan first.

Or is it just me not understanding the USA system?
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Old 01/29/2013, 04:22 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by HelloNNNewman View Post
... but I'm really getting sick of the government trying to control the free market. ...
Erm ...

It is the mobile providers who have an interest in their phones to stay locked. So the initiative for that comes from them.
Mobile providers are part of the "free market".

Actually I hate it, when the so called free market uses governmental institutions (payed by the people with their taxes) and instrumentalize them to criminalize the same people who are a) their customers and b) paying for said institutions with their tax money. ...

Thank god, we don't have that law over here yet, but seeing all the other nonsense that spills over the atlantic, I dare say, we will see something of that as well...
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Old 01/29/2013, 05:25 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Or is it just me not understanding the USA system?
Like I said: it's not a USA only system.
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Old 01/29/2013, 06:38 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Well, well, well... we has this discussion here; in Brazil, some years ago when the GSM begun to work.

All this happens because is very easy change the Simcards between cellphones.

So, we solved this here with some simple solutions:

=> The carrier can sell phones with subsidy (for example, IPhone 5 for $ 500.00 + expensive contract) or without subsidy (IPhone 5 for $ 1,300.00 + no contract);

=> The carrier cannot refuse to sell the devices, with or without subsidy;

=> The carrier cannot "hide" the devices to sell only with subsidy: if I want a Galaxy SIII and the store have only one, I can buy subsidized or not;

=> All devices; subsidized or not, can be sold locked, but the carriers MUST unlock, if the client ask for;

=> The customer (and not the device) is bind to contract, and not by devices;

=> If I want to buy some Galaxy Note II subsidized, I can ask for unlock without problems;

=> If I don't pay my bills, the carrier can add my ID number (CPF in Brazil, SSN in USA) in our black list credit system (I don't know if there is something like that in USA or Canadá) and block the phone number, but never the device.;

=> The device is added in carrier's black list ("bad imei", like "bad esn") only if the device was lost or stolen, and registered the fact in police.


Best Regards...
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Old 01/29/2013, 08:36 AM   #14 (permalink)
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im assuming this is a big thing in the usa solely because of $$ deals between carrier and phone makers, so this is just down to appeasing whoever is throwing the most cash at whoever to keep their services/phones in the consumer spotlight to try and stop people jumping ship to either a different carrier or phone maker??
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Old 01/29/2013, 09:19 AM   #15 (permalink)
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True, it always comes down to money, and whatever gains, protections or rights were afforded or won by end users are attacked in the end. Such is the nature of capitalism. It knows no bounds.
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Old 01/29/2013, 11:19 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Have few about deals between carriers and phone makers and more about the maintain the customer "frozen" in same carrier.

No carrier like to lose customers, and lock phones is part of the strategy to leave him in same company.

I can say this because we can see here that unlocked phones help the client to choice... is one thing less to think when choosing if gonna change or stay in same carrier...


Best Regards...
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Old 01/29/2013, 01:47 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Don't forget, the point of law used to justify this is copyright law. This decision is not from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) or any other governing body... It's from the Library of Congress and it addresses infringing the copyright on the code that locks the phone to a carrier by altering it. Copyrighting protects the fixed form of a work. Altering that code is a common method of unlocking a phone.

You can't purchase a copy of Moby **** and alter the text so that the main Character says, "Call me Oatmeal." That infringes the fixed form set forth in the original copyright.

But if you own a copy of Moby **** you could bleach all the text from the pages and fill the book up with whatever you want so long as you erase the title and call it something else like "Oatmeal Battles the Whale." It might have a lot in common with Moby ****, but so long as it is a different work you can legally put it down on those now blank pages. You bought the paper when you bought the book. You can voluntarily destroy your copy of the protected work. That is your right.

So if the entire program that locks the device were wiped and something Open Source were flashed in its place there is nothing actionable in that act under the ruling...
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Old 01/29/2013, 03:53 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rnp View Post
customer[/b] (and not the device) is bind to contract, and not by devices;
It works the same way in my country. But, other side of this approach is that good discounts are attached only to pricey plans.
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Old 01/30/2013, 09:01 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Yeah, but it's not only in the USA. A few carriers here in The Netherlands have been also doing this for the last 8 months.
Seriously? I live in The Netherlands as well, but I haven't heard anything about this. I know it wasn't very legal a few years ago. Ofcourse providers with simlocked phones won't like it, but in my opionion, there are no legal grounds for sueing someone. I have never heard of anyone being sued for unlocking their phone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIM_lock#Netherlands
Netherlands
Dutch mobile carriers have an agreement [35] with the Netherlands' telecom regulator, OPTA, to establish a code of conduct [36] with respect to SIM locking — specifically, unlocking fees can be charged within the first 12 months and SIM lock cannot last longer than 12 months.[37]
In a 2002 letter to the Dutch Secretary of State of Economic Affairs, OPTA stated that the telecom regulator has decided to start working on the formalization of the voluntary code of conduct into legislation.[38] However, a 2006 report written by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs,[39] stated that competition in the Dutch mobile market is sufficient and the formalization of the voluntary code of conduct into legislation is not needed. Thus there are no SIM locking laws in the Netherlands.[40]

Last edited by Jozz; 01/30/2013 at 09:16 AM. Reason: added wikipedia info
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Old 02/03/2013, 01:39 AM   #20 (permalink)
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My understanding of the law is that the pair of FrankenPre2 phones in my household would be grandfathered as legal. However, should I need to replace one, I would risk getting a nasty call from the Librarian of Congress asking me to pay my fine for copyright violation. Sheesh, librarians sure have gained clout since I was a kid!
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