Beta
×

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 Cell Phone Unlocking Legal Needs 11,000 Signatures

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the freedom-of-technology dept.

Cellphones 193

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." The 30 days time limit on the petition is almost up, and it's about 11,000 signatures shy of the amount necessary to ensure a response from the Obama administration (100,000 total, recently increased from 25,000). The creator of the petition received a Cease & Desist letter from Motorola in 2005 for selling software that would allow users to unlock their phones, and he thinks it's only a matter of time before such legal threats begin again. This is part of a larger battle to protect the way consumers can use their devices. While it's still legal for people to root their phones, the Librarian of Congress failed to expand that legal protection to tablets, even though the devices are incredibly similar. The Librarian's decision (PDF) needs further review, and if the White House petition doesn't get enough signatures by February 23, such a review may not happen.

cancel ×

193 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I'm sure posting it on /. (2)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#42959975)

Will generate a flood of clicks... but will people actually create logins and sign the petition?

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (3, Informative)

mariasama16 (1895136) | about a year ago | (#42960129)

Well, its currently only needing 10,125 signatures, so some people are signing it (and I'm one who created an account to sign it myself).

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (2)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#42960269)

Down to 9,795 as of this post, so about 30 signatures per minute.

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (2)

Miandrital (1029138) | about a year ago | (#42960663)

At 8,601 now

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42960807)

8,043

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42961089)

7,635

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (1)

SuperSlacker64 (1918650) | about a year ago | (#42960727)

8390 now, so that rate has kept up so far. Hopefully it doesn't taper off though.

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (1)

undeadbill (2490070) | about a year ago | (#42960171)

Well, it certainly doesn't help when I'm not receiving my initial sign on email from the petition site! Basically, account creation is done, but I'm blocked from logging in because I never receive an email :/

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#42960319)

It's the government... they said wait a few minutes, so it'll be in your inbox in 1-2 business days. Still, bookmark this, sign yourself in when you can and go sign it, cell phone carriers represent every single evil of the free market imaginable, don't give them an inch.

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960263)

Only if you are an American. The 98% of /. readers who aren't American can't sign the petition.

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960307)

Only if you are an American. The 98% of /. readers who aren't American can't sign the petition.

America has more than 4% of the world's population. Just saying.

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#42960295)

Yes, this is a battle worth winning.

Stop this nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42960855)

Yes, this is a battle worth winning.

No the madness of "consumer rights" has gone far enough. THIS SOCIALIST NONSENSE MUST BE STOPPED. Manufacturers and vendors can't prosper if their property is simply given away by governments and corporations are prohibited from entangling their customers in contractual thralldom. Spoilt little children that's all, you pay for a phone and you think you have a right to use it just as you want?? What is this ... France!?

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#42960353)

Also, please sign the CISPA petition while you're up there: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-cispa-cyber-intelligence-sharing-and-protection-act/19sQhBpy [whitehouse.gov]

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (1)

j-beda (85386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42961215)

Re:I'm sure posting it on /. (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year ago | (#42960409)

I already have an account but I didn't know about this petition, so for me it was just a quick log in to access the "sign petition" button...

sign my petition to study Lead and Crime instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960617)

Inspired by the news reports that discontinuing Leaded (Pb) gasoline caused a drop in crime rates, I wrote a petition calling for a study on why crime fell since 1990. I used to think it was the booming economy, but crime has not spiked up since 2008 too my surprise.

I found out later I need to get 150 signatures for it to be publicly viewable, and now's a good opportunity.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/conduct-thorough-and-depth-study-why-violent-crime-fell-third-united-states-1990/KvSJbfDb

The limit is 800 characters, so I had to cut a bunch of stuff out. If Lead(Pb) increases the propensity to crime, what about depleted Uranium? (I bet the Iraqis are curious) What if aborting poor single women does kill off future criminals? Maybe an oppressive police force does stop crime. Maybe low cost legal drugs mean less robberies. Maybe better drugs for the mentally ill, make law abiding citizens? Maybe long prison sentences keep crooks off the street? What about plastic additives?

The war on drugs, abortion, removal of leaded gasoline, better pharmaceuticals, and other things have changed America over the last few decades, shouldn't we try to learn from them?

Bush3 bought and paid for (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42959977)

Why do you think your petitions mean anything to the petty tyrant who shoots missiles at will?

Re:Bush3 bought and paid for (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#42960063)

I dunno. He proposed the system. There's nothing wrong with using technology to create a little tiny ignorable amount of direct democracy in an otherwise quite dysfunctional republic. I don't think anyone is under the impression that petitions fix everything, but it may allow for correcting the occasional oversight.

Re:Bush3 bought and paid for (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42960841)

I dunno. He proposed the system. There's nothing wrong with using technology to create a little tiny ignorable amount of direct democracy in an otherwise quite dysfunctional republic. I don't think anyone is under the impression that petitions fix everything, but it may allow for correcting the occasional oversight.

1) There is no direct democracy here. They only need to respond. Not change.
            2) There is no oversight here. They know what they do and who they answer to.

There exists no real responsible to the people government here any more.
They give out a few more freebies and make a few more people believe that our freedoms are Given to us by the government and then they can take the last of the guns and do as they please.

False Equivalence (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42960005)

"...have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision" != "Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal"

That is all.

Re:False Equivalence (5, Informative)

Clomer (644284) | about a year ago | (#42960119)

"...have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision" != "Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal"

That is all.

The summary is poor. The petition itself actually states "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."

Re:False Equivalence (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42960253)

"...have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision" != "Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal"

That is all.

The summary is poor. The petition itself actually states "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."

Still.

It's my experience that "ask" does not get you too far when it comes to bureaucrats. "We demand that the White House demand the Librarian of Congress to..." would, IMO, be far more effective; especially if you throw in something about First Amendment grounds.

Re:False Equivalence (2)

almitydave (2452422) | about a year ago | (#42960401)

"...have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision" != "Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal"

That is all.

The summary is poor. The petition itself actually states "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."

... "We demand that the White House demand the Librarian of Congress to..." would, IMO, be far more effective; ....

It would not be more effective, since the White House has only ever pledged to respond to petitions that reach the threshold, not to take any action whatsoever. The petitions are not binding in any way. The WH raised the threshold for comment only because once the site became popular, it was trivially easy to reach that number for stupid things, and the WH didn't want to have to comment on stupid things.

Re:False Equivalence (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#42960405)

"We demand that the White House demand the Librarian of Congress to..." would, IMO, be far more effective; especially if you throw in something about First Amendment grounds.

Given that this petition system does nothing to force anyone to do anything but "respond", and given that past "responses" have been along the lines of the one from TSA regarding a petition to disband TSA ("TSA is great, we're doing great, thanks for asking, have a nice day."), you can 'demand' all you want, but you'll still get a nonresponsive response. You can even toss in a reference to eight of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights and you won't improve the odds.

Re:False Equivalence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960503)

you can 'demand' all you want, but you'll still get a nonresponsive response

True.

But note how the Republicans prop up the Benghazi corpses. Note Obama himself parading children around for his anti-NRA agenda. Why let the slime in both aisles be the only ones to play on emotion?

Demand is a much better word choice. It won't make a legislative difference - none of these petitions will directly lead to any political result. But the language - ah, the language.

"We ask..." isn't going to get your fellow citizens fired up and inspired, like "We demand..." will.

Re:False Equivalence (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42961577)

Saying "demand" when you have no power to enforce your demand just annoys them, making them less likely to respond well to what is actually a request.

It also reduces the number of signatures you'll get, due to people who think such language implies the speaker is impolite and/or a twit refusing to do something that makes them feel like an impolite twit themselves.

Asking nicely - with a large number of people asking - may convince the bureaucrats that there is enough popular support for the position that it might be worth changing their ruling (and/or foregoing the bribe in pursuit of a better target - like votes that enable future bribes).

Ya, that'll work... (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year ago | (#42960501)

Right, because it was the "bureaucrats" who made this decision, not the politicians.

And, of course, a demand from 0.0003% of the population will cause them to spring into action to meet your demands...

Re:False Equivalence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42961131)

The bias of the author of the petition is showing through...he makes software that helps unlock phones, so of course he'd want to make unlocking legal. But for the rest of us, wouldn't it just be better to make selling a locked device illegal? Making unlocking legal creates an arms race where carriers and handset manufacturers can try to use technology to prevent unlocking rather than the law.

Re:False Equivalence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42961601)

But for the rest of us, wouldn't it just be better to make selling a locked device illegal?

There is no need. As both locked and unlocked devices are available in the market, simply purchased the unlocked devices. If people start to do this, manufacturers will cater to this demand by releasing more unlocked devices.

Don't care (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960007)

It's my phone, I paid for it and I honestly don't give two shits if some asshole in congress thinks I can't do what I want with something I own. Go ahead, make it illegal, fill up the jails and prisons just a little bit more. My guess is that a small handful of people might get into trouble over this, but the vast majority of us will do what we want WITH OUR OWN PROPERTY.

Re:Don't care (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#42960213)

Better still, make *locking* phones illegal. It's anti-competitive and should have been outlawed right from the start.

Re:Don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960359)

It's my phone, I paid for it and I honestly don't give two shits if some asshole in congress thinks I can't do what I want with something I own. Go ahead, make it illegal, fill up the jails and prisons just a little bit more. My guess is that a small handful of people might get into trouble over this, but the vast majority of us will do what we want WITH OUR OWN PROPERTY.

That's what I'm wondering, does this law mean anything to anyone? I mean, if I want to unlock my phone then I'm going to regardless.

Re:Don't care (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year ago | (#42960483)

If you truly paid for your phone then it is perfectly legal to jailbreak it. If you have a subsidized phone that you only partially paid for you can't just take it from your provider and hop to another network at will until you've paid off your debt to them for the phone.

The only problem with the way things stand now is that no cell providers provide a clear line in the sand when your subsidy has been paid off since everything is run with telephone company accounting practices (heavily stilted in their favor).

Re:Don't care (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960599)

Sorry even locked/subsidized phones are your property ..... they are not partially owned by a telco. Make the contract a different issue than property rights ...

Re:Don't care (4, Informative)

erice (13380) | about a year and a half ago | (#42960885)

If you truly paid for your phone then it is perfectly legal to jailbreak it. If you have a subsidized phone that you only partially paid.

Not true. In exchange for the subsidy, you entered a legally binding contract that requires you to pay for service for a limited time period. The phone is yours. The state even requires you to pay sales tax on the unsubsidized price at the time of purchase. It is this contract that ties you to the carrier, typically for two years. The lock is completely unnecessary for ensuring that the carrier gets paid and only serves to obstruct the owner from using their own device in any way that doesn't bring extra profit to the carrier above and beyond the required service agreement.

Re:Don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42961381)

The early termination fee protects the carrier from you taking an unlocked phone to another carrier. They're also free to amend their contracts to separate out the financing of the phone from the monthly service charge such that canceling your service does not cancel the financing. Contract law should provide all the hooks they need to protect themselves...they don't need laws preventing unlocking.

Petition starter here (5, Interesting)

Sina Khanifar (2846779) | about a year ago | (#42960031)

Thanks for the support Slashdot. As CanHasDIY notes, it doesn't mean that the decision will be reversed, and I think at best this will be the start of a process to getting the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions revisited by Congress. But hopefully it'll help.

Re:Petition starter here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960571)

I think at best this will be the start of a process to getting the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions revisited by Congress.

That's your best-case scenario? If Congress revisits the DMCA we'll probably end up with something far worse.

I'd hate to hear what your worst-case scenario is.

Re:Petition starter here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42961475)

There's also a petition started about the H-1B visa cap story from yesterday. Would be nice if moderators would get around to posting it! Trying again!
http://wh.gov/vDc0 [wh.gov]

Unlocking of cell phones (-1, Troll)

Charles Queen (2846789) | about a year ago | (#42960047)

Do you know why their doing this?It's because of the problem of so many people getting cells/droids under a contarcted agreement then deciding they want to switch to a diferent carrier without having to pay a large fe to get out of the original contract so I can understand why the major company's want this law.The people themselves are the reason this is happening,it is not the fault of the providers whatsoever,it is the fault of the users

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (2)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#42960107)

answer is easy, stop selling locked phone at $20 with a footnot with a 70 years contract. Or include a condition in the 2 year contract that there is a huge fee per remaining month if you decide to cancel your contract. But why keep it locked?

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#42960397)

answer is easy, stop selling locked phone at $20 with a footnot with a 70 years contract. Or include a condition in the 2 year contract that there is a huge fee per remaining month if you decide to cancel your contract. But why keep it locked?

Because subscriber revenue stinks. Carriers want to have that juicy roaming revenue. And they know if you're on contract, and you unlock your phone, they're denied that revenue as you'd just buy a local SIM.

No, the best way would be to force carriers at the end of a contract (which includes upgrades if you keep your old phone) to give you the unlock code as part of the contract expiration. Same goes if you decide to buy it outright with no contract - the carrier must give you the code ot unlock it.

And yes, I know many stores who will NOT sell you a phone without a contract - if you march in and try to pay the "no contract" price, they'll refuse to sell it to you. Even if you have a valid reason like you want to upgrade but are outside of the upgrade window - they won't sell you the phone without you paying the ETF and signing onto a new contract.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (3, Informative)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#42960115)

Do you know why their doing this?It's because of the problem of so many people getting cells/droids under a contarcted agreement then deciding they want to switch to a diferent carrier without having to pay a large fe to get out of the original contract so I can understand why the major company's want this law.The people themselves are the reason this is happening,it is not the fault of the providers whatsoever,it is the fault of the users

If you get out of your contract agreement, you're going to pay a fee which is dependent on how long you have to go on your contract, regardless of whether you can unlock your phone or not. The fee is for breaking the contract, not to unlock your phone.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (-1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#42960285)

Do you know why their doing this?It's because of the problem of so many people getting cells/droids under a contarcted agreement then deciding they want to switch to a diferent carrier without having to pay a large fe to get out of the original contract so I can understand why the major company's want this law.The people themselves are the reason this is happening,it is not the fault of the providers whatsoever,it is the fault of the users

If you get out of your contract agreement, you're going to pay a fee which is dependent on how long you have to go on your contract, regardless of whether you can unlock your phone or not. The fee is for breaking the contract, not to unlock your phone.

And what about when the people doing this purchase a dozen subsidized phones, unlock them and resell them, and then simply refuse to pay the fee for breaching the contract? Or what if they use a fake credit card for the initial purchase? Or use a valid credit card, then simply stop paying it and leave the CC company and the carrier to try to chase after them with collection agencies to get, at most, pennies on the dollar?

Someone wanting an unlocked phone can simply buy an unlocked phone. All of the carriers happily sell them. This is just about people wanting a free discount.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (1)

SighKoPath (956085) | about a year ago | (#42960387)

Prosecute them for fraud, or stop offering such discounts on phones.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (0)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#42960569)

Prosecute them for fraud, or stop offering such discounts on phones.

You want criminal investigations, charges, and penalties for breaching a contract? O.o

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#42960733)

IN the OP's example, yes. One person doing it with one or two phones, no.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960411)

And what about when the people doing this purchase a dozen subsidized phones, unlock them and resell them, and then simply refuse to pay the fee for breaching the contract? Or what if they use a fake credit card for the initial purchase? Or use a valid credit card, then simply stop paying it and leave the CC company and the carrier to try to chase after them with collection agencies to get, at most, pennies on the dollar?

Someone wanting an unlocked phone can simply buy an unlocked phone. All of the carriers happily sell them. This is just about people wanting a free discount.

Ever heard of a thing called a "credit score"?? It's quite simple. You don't pay, your credit score gets hit. Using a fake credit card just identifies an issue with the validation of the CC. That's up to the stores to identify invalid credit cards. You refuse to pay for breaking the contract? Then simple again. You're no longer eligible to purchase another phone with the carrier until the debt is settled. The issues you've listed could happen with ANY technology purchase whether it's a television (much more expensive) or a vehicle. There's always some consequence.

There's millions of people not able to pay for their credit cards. Do you REALLY think that the CC company isn't able to recoup their costs? You think that the interest they change is for the CONSUMER's benefit? Ha! You're really a fool if you think that's true.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960491)

Do you know why their doing this?It's because of the problem of so many people getting cells/droids under a contarcted agreement then deciding they want to switch to a diferent carrier without having to pay a large fe to get out of the original contract so I can understand why the major company's want this law.The people themselves are the reason this is happening,it is not the fault of the providers whatsoever,it is the fault of the users

If you get out of your contract agreement, you're going to pay a fee which is dependent on how long you have to go on your contract, regardless of whether you can unlock your phone or not. The fee is for breaking the contract, not to unlock your phone.

Someone wanting an unlocked phone can simply buy an unlocked phone. All of the carriers happily sell them. This is just about people wanting a free discount.

No, this is about people getting what they paying for. I have no problem with my carrier, or the contract; I have a problem with the crap they push out to my phone.

My phone, my property.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (2)

GSloop (165220) | about a year ago | (#42960609)

Oh, so stupid contracts that disadvantage a huge business over the customer need criminal protections for said huge business? Sheesh

[And that's even assuming such a "disadvantage exists - which it doesn't.]

But lets just assume it does.
So, if I'm "too large to fail" I'll get the government to enact criminal penalties to help me enforce a stupid contract I made, outside of the civil court system? This is no different than getting "Vinny," with his bat, to break the knees of anyone who renegs on a deal nad cuts into your profits. Spare me.

Hey, mobile-telco boffo's - take it up in civil court like everyone else. Your contractual stupidity shouldn't be enforced by draconian criminal punishments from a government who should have no interest in any contract you make.

Free market my ass.

-Greg

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (2)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#42960619)

And what about when the people doing this purchase a dozen subsidized phones, unlock them and resell them, and then simply refuse to pay the fee for breaching the contract?

What the hell? What about people who enter any contract, and then breach it? Contract law is a thing, go to the courts. If the problem is so widespread that this isn't cost effective, then that business model is broken, and I guess it's just not going to be worth it to you to offer subsidized phones.
Try offering another incentive instead, like a lower monthly plan if under contract.

We the people don't owe you a law to make your business model work.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | about a year ago | (#42960621)

And what about when the people doing this purchase a dozen subsidized phones, unlock them and resell them, and then simply refuse to pay the fee for breaching the contract? Or what if they use a fake credit card for the initial purchase? Or use a valid credit card, then simply stop paying it and leave the CC company and the carrier to try to chase after them with collection agencies to get, at most, pennies on the dollar?

Are you fcking serious? They will get royally screwed just like when serfs anywhere try to get a little bit of money back from the rich.

There are plenty of things to worry about in the world but one of the few things we don't have to worry about is the ability of large corporations to put the screws to the little guy. Look at the robo-signing fiasco. Thousands of people (or more) have lost their homes and all the investment they put into them without ever having missed a payment.

The very last thing we need is yet another way for large corporations to screw the average person.

Someone wanting an unlocked phone can simply buy an unlocked phone. All of the carriers happily sell them. This is just about people wanting a free discount.

Yes, as long as everyone has perfect foresight of what will happen in the future and how their contract will get changed without their consent then what you say may be true. OTOH, in the real world this makes about as much sense as your concern about giving corporations yet another means of screwing individuals.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960627)

That's already covered by existing fraud laws.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960137)

You must be new here. Welcome. Please learn to spell.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (1)

rockout (1039072) | about a year ago | (#42960149)

"It is the fault of the users." Are you just trolling? Because if you're not, you don't have the slightest understanding of this situation.

If you want to switch to a different carrier, you DO, in fact, have to pay a large fee to get out of the original contract. If you don't pay it, it's handled like any other legitimate debt.

If you paid full price for a phone, and don't have a contract, why would a corporation get to tell you what you can and can't do with the phone after you've paid for it?

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (0)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#42960309)

"It is the fault of the users." Are you just trolling? Because if you're not, you don't have the slightest understanding of this situation.

If you want to switch to a different carrier, you DO, in fact, have to pay a large fee to get out of the original contract. If you don't pay it, it's handled like any other legitimate debt.

Yeah - they chase after you with letters, bills, collection agencies, etc., to hopefully collect 5% of what you owe... if they're lucky.

If you paid full price for a phone, and don't have a contract, why would a corporation get to tell you what you can and can't do with the phone after you've paid for it?

Please re-read the summary: "On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect..."

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960203)

The original carrier can still demand payment of the the fee. It isn't the role of the library of congress to get into the job of insuring that carriers collect these fees.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42960233)

Do you know why [they're] doing this?[ ]It's because of the problem of so many people getting cells/droids under a [contracted] agreement[,] then deciding they want to switch to a [different] carrier without having to pay a large [fee] to get out of the original contract[,] so I can understand why the major [companies] want this law.

Whew, much better - that poorly typed shit is hard for me to read.

Here's the issue with your argument - cellular carriers already charge hefty fees for early contract termination, so your main talking point here is demonstrably false.

Also, this "law," which BTW isn't really a law as the Librarian of Congress is not a fucking Legislator , merely adds insult to injury by preventing everyone from unlocking their phones, up to and including folks who unwittingly bought a locked phone outright (it happens), and people like me that actually fulfilled our contractual obligation, and now possess a fully paid for, albeit nearly obsolete, device.

The people themselves are the reason this is happening,it is not the fault of the providers whatsoever,it is the fault of the users

Psychologists refer to this sort of behavior as victim blaming, [wikipedia.org] and is oft employed exclusively by narcissistic assholes.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (2)

kevkingofthesea (2668309) | about a year ago | (#42960423)

albeit nearly obsolete

IMO, a phone is not obsolete so long as it is capable of making calls.

Re:Unlocking of cell phones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42961243)

Yes, it is a law. The law that makes it illegal is the DMCA, the power the librarian of congress has is to grant certain exemptions, which was done 6 years ago for cell phone unlocking but now the librarian of congress has decided that this particular exemption is no longer necessary. The librarian of congress does not have the power to make arbitrary laws, just a say in how this particular one can be enforced.

i did (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960065)

i did

Re:i did (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960193)

I did not.

Honestly, I just don't care enough to waste my time signing a worthless Internet petition.

Re:i did (4, Funny)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year ago | (#42960477)

I see. Your time is better spent bitching about said Internet petition on Slashdot.

FTFY (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#42960145)

White House Petition To Get Staff Flunky To Reiterate That Cell Phone Unlocking Remains Illegal Needs 11,000 Signatures

Re:FTFY (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#42960183)

Sure, but then at least you've forced an elected official instead of a bureaucrat to take an official position on the matter. The mechanics of the US's democracy suck, but low-grade feedback is better than no feedback on terrible decisions.

Re:FTFY (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year ago | (#42960449)

Sure, but then at least you've forced an elected official instead of a bureaucrat to take an irrelevant position on the matter.

FTFY. Or perhaps you haven't heard of Separation of Powers [wikipedia.org] ? The best that could happen is that an Executive-branch bureaucrat politely asks a Legislative-branch ("Library of Congress", get it?) to change his mind. And the Legislative bureaucrat politely declines. End of discussion.

Let's hear it for participatory democratic government!

Yeah OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960157)

More like 11,000 more signatures before the WH pretends to take a look at it and then says they aren't going to do anything about it.

Appealing to authority is so sad (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#42960201)

You don't ask for your rights. You take them.

petitions don't write laws (4, Insightful)

Khashishi (775369) | about a year ago | (#42960207)

Are there any examples of a "We the people" petition actually doing anything even if successful?

Re:petitions don't write laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960267)

We got the beer recipe, remember?

Re:petitions don't write laws (4, Funny)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#42960331)

Are there any examples of a "We the people" petition actually doing anything even if successful?

We got the beer recipe. [whitehouse.gov] Hooray.

Re:petitions don't write laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960437)

Made with malt extract. Ewww.

Re:petitions don't write laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960361)

Might have been useful except people started pissing on the process by asking for stupid shit like a Death Star.

Re:petitions don't write laws (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#42960759)

The TSA and marijuana petitions were legit and got non-answers. Death Star came after people were fed up with it and threw an absurd one at them, which of course the morons answer when they should have said nothing.

This isn't the white house's job. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#42960301)

Talk to your congress critters.

Re:This isn't the white house's job. (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year ago | (#42960489)

Actually you are quite mistaken. It very much is the White House's job [wikipedia.org] .

Shows petition as signed, but I'm not logged in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960333)

It would help if they didn't show that I signed the petition, even though I am not logged in. Remember to login then, open the petition up.

Screw the DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960369)

Come and get me, coppers!

It's legal in Canada... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42960379)

Barring possible contract violations with your cell phone provider, I can't see any reason you couldn't take your cell phone into Canada, unlock it there, and then return.

It's not illegal in the USA to possess an unlocked cell phone, and as I said, it's legal in Canada to unlock cell phones.

I mean, if you can, say, travel to some country where, for example, marijuana is legal, and take advantage of that fact while vacationing and then return without being held legally accountable for that act upon reentering the United States, I see absolutely no reason why this should be any kind of problem for people who live close enough to the Can/USA border to unlock their phones completely legally.

Not that I think the prohibition against cell phone unlocking is good. It's actually extremely bad because the justification for removing the cell phone unlocking exemption won't generally apply, because it actually creates some additional incentive for more cell phone providers to only provide locked phones.

Re:It's legal in Canada... (1)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year ago | (#42960515)

If it were that simple they could just go to a Canadian website, but the problem is the codes. Excepting a few models where the codes are cracked, an individual code is needed for each phone. The codes come from the manufacturer, and it is the manufacturer in consultation with the carrier that sells the codes to third parties.

When they made 'unlocking' illegal in the U.S. they were essentially banning those codes. This will probably result in the codes no longer being sold to the 3rd parties, so you won't be able to get the code no matter what country you are in.

The carriers will still have the codes and will presumably agree to sell you your code for a ridiculous admin fee, once your contract has expired.

Re:It's legal in Canada... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42960607)

Going to a Canadian website while in the USA would still involve unlocking it while in the USA, and thus still subject to USA laws.

When you travel to another country, you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting, not your own country's laws, except to the extent that you do not return with anything that your country prohibits.

As I said.... it is entirely legal in the USA to own an unlocked cell phone, and it's not illegal in Canada to unlock one, and the law does not apparently actually prohibit the distribution of unlocking codes, only the actual act of unlocking, it seems to me that you could take a phone from the USA, unlock it in Canada, and then return to the United States entirely legally.

Re:It's legal in Canada... (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year ago | (#42960657)

Are you suggesting that the TSA perform marijuana usage scans upon reentry to the USA?

Joking, sort of.

Re:It's legal in Canada... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42960729)

No... I'm simply stating that it's not illegal for people to do things that may be illegal in their home country when said things are legal in the country that they actually *ARE* in.

It's not illegal to unlock cell phones in Canada. It's not illegal to possess an unlocked cell phone in the USA. It's not really not that difficult a concept.

I'm still waiting (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year ago | (#42960391)

for them to build a death star

Umm, what? (1)

Vrtigo1 (1303147) | about a year ago | (#42960433)

"unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S."

"It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. "

These are in direct conflict with each other. If you've paid for a device in full, you're not under contract.

Really, all the cell phone companies need to do to swing things in their favor is to state that if you buy a subsidized phone, it remains the property of the telco until you've satisfied your contractual commitment. They can certainly prevent you from unlocking a phone that doesn't belong to you.

Meanwhile, southwards... (5, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | about a year ago | (#42960497)

Here in Brazil, it is illegal to sell locked phones.

Re:Meanwhile, southwards... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42960827)

Please don't try to help Americans with their internal affairs, if by some miracle they listen to a foreigner and fix their problems, who do we laugh at then? Just nod your head with understanding and chuckle internally.

What for anyway? (1)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#42960509)

I mean, if you buy a "subsidized" phone and agree on a contract for two years or so, with monthly payments you have to pay if you use their network or not, what do they gain by not allowing you to unlock it and use it with another carrier (and pay for this also)? You're still paying them anyway.

Also a petition for a people's FCC chairman (3, Informative)

doug141 (863552) | about a year ago | (#42960589)

There's also a petition to appoint Susan as FCC Chairman.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/appoint-susan-crawford-fcc-chairman/73mtqt0q [whitehouse.gov] ,

Susan Crawford, law school professor and author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Guilded Age, says “Truly high-speed wired Internet access is as basic to innovation, economic growth, social communication, and the country’s competitiveness as electricity was a century ago, but a limited number of Americans have access to it, many can’t afford it, and the country has handed control of it over to Comcast and a few other companies.”

In a recent TV interview, she pointed out high speed access in Hong Kong costs a fraction of what it does in New York city, because the US providers don't enter each other's markets. She wants to change that.

http://billmoyers.com/segment/susan-crawford-on-why-u-s-internet-access-is-slow-costly-and-unfair/ [billmoyers.com]

Re:Also a petition for a people's FCC chairman (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year and a half ago | (#42961619)

Susan Crawford, law school professor and author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Guilded Age,

It's Gilded Age, not Guilded Age.

A guilded age might be a nice thing to have.

How Effectual Are Online Petitions? (1)

Secret Agent Man (915574) | about a year ago | (#42960595)

Serious question. With the advent of this official government petition forum, online petitions have been all the rage lately. Topics have ranged from legitimate causes (the one discussed in the article) to silly or facetious ones (building a Death Star). I know it's far too early to tell for the recent petitions, as it takes a while for things to happen in the government scene, but what electronic petitions have actually gotten stuff going?

Just 11,000 more signatures... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#42960707)

...and your petition can be *officially* ignored by the White House!

Death Star (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42960785)

There we go, you mother fucking idiots that signed the Death Star petition. Are you fucking happy now? If you hadn't been fucking the dog, they wouldn't have raised the number of signatures needed. Now that we really need one to go through, you fuckers fucking fucked it up.
Good fucking job, you fucking mother fuckers!

Fuck.

~9700 and dropping (1)

h8sg8s (559966) | about a year and a half ago | (#42960879)

Within striking distance folks. Sign. The. Petition.

Why should it be 'legal'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42961023)

No seriously. We are talking about phones on contract who have not had their subsidy paid of. ITS NOT YOUR PHONE, yet. Why should you have the right to screw with someone else's property? No different than leasing a car, or a house, or tux.. its not your stuff.

Once its paid off, its yours to do with as you please. Now of course its still the carrier's choice to let you continue to connect to their network if you violate their rules.. But its your device at that point and you can eat the damned thing if you wanted to.

Don't like being 'trapped', well, pay for the phone outright and don't ' lease' it.

Sounds like a bunch of cry babies to me.. Cake + eat at the same time.

Land of the free, or anything corporations want. (1)

felixrising (1135205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42961245)

Really, for the "Land of the Free", it's just corporations taking priority and precedence over the rights and freedoms of the people. The level of government lobbying (you know, no no not bribes, its funding!) by corporations and the rights of the free people of the USA taking a back seat... this is just another example of the free not really being free. Please sir, may I have the right to do anything I want with the phone I bought and paid for?!.. Come on people, sign that petition!

Who are we kidding? (2)

stoploss (2842505) | about a year and a half ago | (#42961359)

If this is anything like previous petitions, I expect the response to be farmed out to an cell phone carrier exec who will ignore the petition's content and instead talk about how much they are spending on building out their network. Bonus points if they end on a riff about how the DMCA protects consumer rights and why ACTA, SOPA, and PIPA would be great for the American public (if we could only get them passed... contact your congressperson!).

Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42961369)

The White House doesn't make the Law. Congress does. A Whitehouse petition is useless.

Why can't I vote in private (1, Insightful)

desertfool (21262) | about a year and a half ago | (#42961531)

I can vote in private for just about everything, but to sign this I need to sign in? No thank you.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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>