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New DMCA handset unlocking rules being lobbied with White House Petition [u]

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
A petition filed with the White House's "We the People" online registry, which is scheduled to end in two days, looks to bring awareness to a U.S. federal rule that makes it illegal for owners of certain smartphones to unlock their handsets.

Update: The petition reached 100,000 signatures early Thursday morning.

Unlocked iPhone 5


The petition takes aim at an October 2012 decision by the Librarian of Congress, which dissolved an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allowed users to freely unlock their mobile phones. As of Jan. 26, 2013, unauthorized unlocking of all newly purchased phones became illegal.

In an interview with AppleInsider, the White House petition's creator, Sina Khanifar, said the decision to alter DMCA rules is an overall negative for U.S. consumers.

Cellular providers "lock" the phones they sell to their proprietary network bands to stop people from using a competing carrier's service. The practice is meant in part to ensure subscription revenues from customers who purchased subsidized hardware, like the iPhone.

Khanifar, who frequently travels to Europe from San Francisco, found cell phone locking a nuisance and, more importantly, a financial burden.

"Anyone who travels internationally, and most people do at some point, you won't be able to take your cell phone with you," he said. "Trying to use it with the existing roaming fees that carriers charge is almost impossible because they're so exorbitant."

He goes on to note that without the ability to unlock phones, those looking to resell their old units through services such as Craiglist will only be able to address a limited portion of the market. The new stipulation not only drops values in the second-hand market, but also hinders buyers from using the handsets properly on their network of choice, Khanifar said."We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."

"Not being able to unlock your phone means that you have to basically buy a new device," he said. "That makes it harder for people to change, it gives people less choice in which carrier they're on, and increases the cost affecting them."

The petition requests that "the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."

Khanifar has measured ambitions as it pertains to the petition. He understands that even if the minimum 100,000 signatures are garnered, the White House is not likely to take swift action in overturning the Librarian of Congress' decision.

"I think the petition is helping create awareness on this issue," Khanifar said. "It just shows that people are really interested and motivated by this. This is part of a process of getting the word out there and helping convince [lawmakers] that this is something people care about."

As of this writing, the petition stands at nearly 93,000 signatures.
post #2 of 20
It is time for carriers to just sell their phones with a lease or finance contract. If someone leaves them then the phone user must fulfill the contract by paying the full principle or residual value of the phone. They must stop saying the phone is discounted and the user will owe nothing if they stay in their contract for two years or whatever. A simple contract like this will do the exact same thing the carriers want. They just won't be able to say their phones are free or cost so little.

With this type of contract the carriers can just offer month to month agreements instead of two year agreements. Their good service will keep the people with them. If they don't give good service and the customer wants to leave, they won't lose money on the phone.
post #3 of 20

One issue I see is that if you own your phone you should not have to pay the same monthly fee as someone who is subsidized. How is that even legal? 

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #4 of 20

For me people want the best of both world, unlocked phones, but then still want to be subsidised by mobile carriers. If you have completed the agreed contract period, then the phone should be unlocked to the user, but while you are under contract, provided a phone at super saving, just suck it up and stop the cry babying.

 

In India, I know the phones are more expensive, but at least phones are unlocked for all to access any carrier and we have EMI facility now, which means you can purchase the iPhone at reasonable monthly cost.

 

Maybe EMI is something USA could use and stop supporting the cost of phones, that way, the phones can be unlocked.

 

Just a thought

post #5 of 20

I have always unlocked my iPhones, then again I live in a country with less restrictive government intervention in how business operates, where providing unlocking is a competitive advantage.

 

I recently went overseas, popped in a PAYG SIM and had no problems with my iPhone 5, iMessage and FaceTime worked great, continuing to use my Australian number.

Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

I recently went overseas, popped in a PAYG SIM and had no problems with my iPhone 5, iMessage and FaceTime worked great, continuing to use my Australian number.

How does that work? You are using a local sim when traveling abroad yet still have your home number? How is that possible?

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post #7 of 20
What they should be petitioning is for no phones to be locked at all. And for phone devices fees to be a unique line item such that if you pay full price, bring your own or have paid it off, you get a reduction in your bill.


Rather like the whole tmobile rumors or the Straight Talk program

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

What they should be petitioning is for no phones to be locked at all. And for phone devices fees to be a unique line item such that if you pay full price, bring your own or have paid it off, you get a reduction in your bill.

Rather like the whole tmobile rumors or the Straight Talk program

I partly agree with you.

IMO if you owe money on the phone it should continue be locked to that phone company.

If you pay the full balance owing on the phone's cost, the phone company should unlock it

  and you pay a lower monthly fee to reflect the phone companies lower cost.

Also if you join a phone company, by bringing your unlocked phone, you should pay the lower monthly fee.

post #9 of 20
They need to make locking illegal if you ask me. They have a contract to make sure they get their money. Locking the hardware is total BS. Not buying another locked phone either way.
post #10 of 20

Biggest problem is the carriers own too many people in the regulatory agencies and too many people in Congress.  The agency people and congressmen need the bribes, so they aren't going to piss off the carriers.

post #11 of 20
At least prices don't go up like they do once your contract is up with the cable companies. FYI T mobile offers a cheaper plan for those that bring their own phones.
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #12 of 20
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
One issue I see is that if you own your phone you should not have to pay the same monthly fee as someone who is subsidized. How is that even legal? 

 

Why wouldn't it be? You have to pay the same property taxes whether you're still paying off your mortgage or not.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #13 of 20
I don't think that argument applies here. Carriers say part of the reason for the long term contracts is to recoup the subsidy. After the phone is paid off, the portion of the fees that apply to the subsidy should also drop off. Property taxes are not tied to your mortgage, they are tied to the tax value of your home. A better comparison would be having to continue to pay mortgage interest after you have paid off the mortgage.
post #14 of 20
Originally Posted by iSteelers View Post
I don't think that argument applies here. Carriers say part of the reason for the long term contracts is to recoup the subsidy. After the phone is paid off, the portion of the fees that apply to the subsidy should also drop off. Property taxes are not tied to your mortgage, they are tied to the tax value of your home. A better comparison would be having to continue to pay mortgage interest after you have paid off the mortgage.

 

You're right; apologies. So is there a similar situation within another (or the same) industry?

 

I agree with mstone's point, but there has to be a reason this hasn't come up (legally or otherwise) in a wider scope… 

 

Oh, what about satellite television? Do you pay the same monthly whether you're renting (yes… renting…) their DVR or if you own your own? That seems like it could be a similar situation.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

One issue I see is that if you own your phone you should not have to pay the same monthly fee as someone who is subsidized. How is that even legal? 

 

No.  I always get a monthly discount when bringing my own phone and not getting a free/discounted phone.  You just have to know where to go to get service.

post #16 of 20
Quote:
"Anyone who travels internationally, and most people do at some point,"...

 

All in favor of the petition, but can someone say skewed view of society? I have travelled internationally, as have many of my friends and relatives, but I would wager a mathematical majority of my acquaintances have not. Of those who have, it is a rare occasion. This isn't a reason to tout unlocking phone hardware: basic fairness and use of one's own property are.

 

All this may sound petty, but the argument will not resonate with many millions of Americans when they read it presented with such presumptive comments.

post #17 of 20
Originally Posted by ipen View Post
No.  I always get a monthly discount when bringing my own phone and not getting a free/discounted phone.  You just have to know where to go to get service.

 

Ah, but then the problem becomes getting service (coverage) where you go to get service from this obscure company.

 

To what company do you go that you're able to do this?

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Why wouldn't it be? You have to pay the same property taxes whether you're still paying off your mortgage or not.

Yes, but when you pay off your mortgage, the monthly cost of owning a home goes down. On T-mobile when the phone is paid off the monthly rate drops.
post #19 of 20
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
Yes, but when you pay off your mortgage, the monthly cost of owning a home goes down.

 

Not for us. Our taxes go up since the break from having a mortgage is gone. In fact, we're doing the math right now to see if taking out a second mortgage and paying that off monthly would cost us less than paying the increased taxes once our mortgage is gone. 

 

But it was a bad example anyway. lol.gif

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Ah, but then the problem becomes getting service (coverage) where you go to get service from this obscure company.

 

To what company do you go that you're able to do this?

 

AT&T great coverage in my area.

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