Unlocking Android Phones Will Become Illegal This Weekend

This is a discussion on Unlocking Android Phones Will Become Illegal This Weekend within the Android Forum forums, part of the Android Discussions category; Unlocking your cellphone will be illegal starting Saturday.Starting Jan. 26, buying and unlocking a phone will no longer be legal in the United States. In ...

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Thread: Unlocking Android Phones Will Become Illegal This Weekend

  1. #1
    Android Lurker nice365's Avatar
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    Unlocking Android Phones Will Become Illegal This Weekend

    Unlocking your cellphone will be illegal starting Saturday.Starting Jan. 26, buying and unlocking a phone will no longer be legal in the United States. In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocked android phones would no longer be allowed. But the librarian provided a 90-day window during which people could still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on January 26.

    Unlocking a phone frees it from restrictions that keep the device from working on more than one carrier’s network, allowing it runs on other networks that use the same wireless standard. This can be useful to international travellers who need their phones to work on different networks. Other people just like the freedom of being able to switch carriers as they please.
    The new rule against unlocking phones won’t be a problem for everybody, though. For example, Verizon’s iPhone 5 comes out of the box already unlocked, and AT&T will unlock a phone once it is out of contract.
    You can also pay full-price for a phone, not the discounted price that comes with a two-year service contract, to receive the device unlocked from the get-go. Apple sells an unlocked iPhone 5 starting at $649, and Google sells its Nexus 4 unlocked for $300.
    Advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) questions whether the DMCA has the right to determine who can unlock a phone. In an email to TechNewsDaily, EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz said, “Arguably, locking phone users into one carrier is not at all what the DMCA was meant to do. It’s up to the courts to decide.”
    If you do buy a new phone and want to unlock it before the deadline, you must first ask your carrier if the company will unlock your phone for you. The DMCA only permits you to unlock your phone yourself once you’ve asked your carrier first.
    (Note that unlocking is different from “jailbreaking,” which opens the phone up for running additional software and remains legal for smart phones.)
    Christopher S. Reed from the U.S. Copyright Office noted in an email to TechNewsDaily that “only a consumer, who is also the owner of the copy of software on the handset under the law, may unlock the handset.”
    But come Saturday, you’ll have to break the law to unlock your phone. If you want to get in under the gun, you can search the Internet for the code to enter to unlock the phone or find a tool that will help you accomplish the task.
    The change could crimp the style of carriers like T-Mobile, which has pushed “bring your own device” as an incentive for switching service providers. Such carriers promise savings in exchange for using your existing phone on their network.
    T-Mobile has promoted this notion for iPhones, in particular, since the company is the only one of the big four U.S. carriers that don’t sell the iPhone. The carrier goes so far as to feature ads displaying an open padlock, with an iPhone replacing the body of the lock. T-Mobile declined to comment.

    Article Originally:New Android Reviews
    Last edited by cali; 01-25-2013 at 10:40 AM. Reason: Removed Embedded Link

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    Android Lurker crazygal's Avatar
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    got a good response today from the white house about legalizing cell phone unlocking. here is the source:

    White House responds to petition: unlocking phones should be legalized

    The recent ruling that effectively bans third-party unlocking has ruffled more than a few feathers, and the people have spoken with their electronic signatures---14,322 of them, to be exact. Now the petition to the White House, which asks that DMCA protection of phone unlockers be reconsidered, has finally received an official response, and it appears that it's for the positive. The author of the letter is R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy.
    "The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties," Edelman writes. All told, the response matches that of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which wrote a letter to the Librarian of Congress in support of extending the exemption last year.
    So what does this mean for us? Edelman states: "The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation." We're not going to see immediate change, but it appears that a chain of events is now in motion in which the FCC and Congress potentially play a huge role. We're not out of the woods yet, but it's relieving to see such a positive response -- along with a call to action -- from the government.



    what do you guys think?

    here is the full response letter:

    Thank you for sharing your views on cell phone unlocking with us through your petition on our We the People platform. Last week the White House brought together experts from across government who work on telecommunications, technology, and copyright policy, and we're pleased to offer our response.
    The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.
    This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs -- even if it isn't the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.
    The White House's position detailed in this response builds on some critical thinking done by the President's chief advisory Agency on these matters: the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). For more context and information on the technical aspects of the issue, you can review the NTIA's letter to the Library of Congress' Register of Copyrights (.pdf), voicing strong support for maintaining the previous exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for cell phone carrier unlocking.
    Contrary to the NTIA's recommendation, the Librarian of Congress ruled that phones purchased after January of this year would no longer be exempted from the DMCA. The law gives the Librarian the authority to establish or eliminate exceptions -- and we respect that process. But it is also worth noting the statement the Library of Congress released today on the broader public policy concerns of the issue. Clearly the White House and Library of Congress agree that the DMCA exception process is a rigid and imperfect fit for this telecommunications issue, and we want to ensure this particular challenge for mobile competition is solved.
    So where do we go from here?
    The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.
    We also believe the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with its responsibility for promoting mobile competition and innovation, has an important role to play here. FCC Chairman Genachowski today voiced his concern about mobile phone unlocking (.pdf), and to complement his efforts, NTIA will be formally engaging with the FCC as it addresses this urgent issue.
    Finally, we would encourage mobile providers to consider what steps they as businesses can take to ensure that their customers can fully reap the benefits and features they expect when purchasing their devices.
    We look forward to continuing to work with Congress, the wireless and mobile phone industries, and most importantly you -- the everyday consumers who stand to benefit from this greater flexibility -- to ensure our laws keep pace with changing technology, protect the economic competitiveness that has led to such innovation in this space, and offer consumers the flexibility and freedoms they deserve.

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