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FCC will investigate cellphone unlock legality

Posted: , by Michael H.

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FCC will investigate cellphone unlock legality
So, we're not quite sure if this exactly fulfills the requisite White House response to the petition that successfully went through the We The People site about unlocking cellphones, but it is some sort of action by a government entity. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said today that the FCC will investigate the legality of unlocking carrier-locked cellphones.

The backstory is that unlocking a cellphone that has been carrier-locked is currently illegal in the US, even if you've finished your subsidy, or purchased the phone off-contract. The Library of Congress had exempted cell phone unlocks from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans “circumvention” of copy protection schemes, and so unlocking had been legal for the past six years. That exemption was allowed to lapse, but the ban on jailbreaking your device has been lifted. So, it is currently legal to do what you will with the software of a device that you own, but not the hardware. 

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told TechCrunch last night that the FCC would look into the cellphone unlocking issue. He said that the "ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns," but he did warn that the FCC might not actually have the power to do anything about changing the law

That's why we're not sure if this fulfills the required White House response, because we're pretty sure that the petition requires a response from a branch of government that can actually do something about the problem. So, it seems that it is still important for you all to contact your local congressmen and senators, and because they definitely have the power to change the law.

source: TechCrunch

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This story is part of: Cell phone unlocking law(6 updates)

19 Comments
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posted on 28 Feb 2013, 23:36 1

1. Dr.Phil (Posts: 865; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


Leave it to the government to tell you that you can't do something to a device you own. Yet, everyone goes about their daily business as if this is not a big deal. What if the government told you that you couldn't upgrade your car using aftermarket parts? Or that you couldn't install hardwood floors in your own home? Same difference, just on a different scale. Actually, the surprising thing is that the questions I just asked are things that the government can and does, in some ways, control.

posted on 28 Feb 2013, 23:47 1

2. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Too many people complain on message boards rather than contacting their representatives in government; so, unfortunately, government officials hear more from corporate lobby than they do from constituents. And, the laws reflect that.

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 00:14 1

6. Dr.Phil (Posts: 865; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


I have contacted my representatives time and time again on many different issues (SOPA being a big one). If you honestly believe that every representative in Congress actually listens to the people, then you are sadly mistaken. There is a reason lobbyists win: money. You may get some time to actually speak with your representative if you have some cash on hand.

That is not to say there aren't some good people in Congress, but there are just as many more that are in there for the wrong reasons.

The real problem is not that there aren't people who voice their opinion, but rather that there are people out there that are misinformed on the issues. I doubt that many people know what sequestration really is or that the government thinks it is legal to kill an American citizen via a drone strike even though the Constitution gives us a right to a trial first. Instead, we are more focused on stupid things like what Kim Kardashian is wearing or whether Michelle Obama had a cute dress at the Oscars...

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 04:12 2

11. hepresearch (unregistered)


The moment when the majority of Americans decide that they don't need to be involved in their own government, and can just let everyone else worry about it, is the moment when Americans are no longer in charge of their own government. The moment when the fault-finders poison the majority of Americans into complaining incessantly about their government is the moment when Americans fail to realize that they are electing officials who are no less corrupt and hypocritical than they are, as a society on the whole. The moment when the majority of Americans become convinced that they no longer even have a say in their own government is the moment when Americans become complete slaves to their government. The free society is led quietly into their slumber, from which they will awaken to discover that they no longer have their liberty in any sense or form.

Hmmmm... looking around at my surroundings here makes me wonder if these have ALL already happened, most of them perhaps even before I was born. For a long time I was asleep, just believing what I was told in school, and not thinking about anything beyond that. I am awake now, but it appears to be too little... too late. Nevertheless, why quit trying now? I'll stand for liberty in every way that I can, even in such trivial things as mobile technology. Whatever you do, don't let anyone make you think that you can't do anything about it anymore. No one can make you think anything... choose for yourselves to think otherwise. If you are already falling off of a cliff, you may as well try to fly...

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 16:31

18. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I didn't mean to imply that you haven't contacted your representatives, and obviously not every rep listens to the people. We certainly agree on basically everything here. People do need to be more informed, but people also need to be more active.

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 08:10

13. rusticguy (Posts: 2819; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


It's a global truth. Politicians sleep with business lobby or they sleep with each other.

posted on 28 Feb 2013, 23:51 4

3. Bernoulli (Posts: 1433; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)


I know mate! Stupid Americans and their pathetic Government, what a joke, but then again average Americans don't know what buying a mobile off contract is, they get scared at the thought of paying more than 250 $ for a handset

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 10:56

14. MikeG77 (Posts: 366; Member since: 24 Nov 2008)


I'm just curious Bernoulli but what country are you from/live in???

For you and me its ok to buy a phone at retail as we understand the value and we have the financial means to do so. Unfortunately when we buy at retail we generally don't get a discount on the service as we should. If people actual saw that they would save money over 2 yrs then i think people would buy at retail.

The thing is that as Americans we have been conditioned to try and pay the lowest price possible. Buying a phone for most people at a subsidized rate is not a bad thing because they wouldnt be able to afford to buy at full retail. For most people buying a phone at retail is financially irresponsible and would hurt them in the long run.

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 11:49

15. Bernoulli (Posts: 1433; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)


I moved to the states 8 years ago, but I'm originally from Mexico, what about you? Haha I really don't think you were born in America! You're probably not even fat lol no but I'm with the rest of the foreign crowd and use t-mobile value plans, which service do you use? Plus like that we have the flexibility of getting any mobile we want that's aws compatible of course lol :)

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 12:13 3

16. MikeG77 (Posts: 366; Member since: 24 Nov 2008)


I was born and raised her but my mom is from Jamaica so i have a little different perspective on things. Nothing wrong with having a LITTLE fat on you means i can drink more when i go out. I use Verizon and i have the $99.99 a month plan unlimited text data 450 minutes....FTW. Its expensive but ill never switch over to Screw you over..... i mean share eveything plans.

I agree having flexibility is good but i would be careful with idea that Americans are stupid and our gov't is pathetic. Lets be fair its not the Mexican gov't is any better. Hell the people are just as stupid and the gov't is way more corrupt but thats just my opinion.

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 21:20

19. Bernoulli (Posts: 1433; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)


Lol I never said all Americans are stupid, I just implied that they are used to being given devices for cheap, and yes I completely agree with the corrupt government, thank god I escaped that hell

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 01:14

8. anywherehome (Posts: 971; Member since: 13 Dec 2011)


don't worry....next stage "its illegal to uninstall/deactivate app from factory settings"
and US snooping has a better tool :)

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 07:34

12. tomn1ce (Posts: 98; Member since: 12 Mar 2012)


Unless you're rooted I don't think that you can uninstall apps/bloatware that comes with the device...you can hide them on Android powered devices (versions 4.+). Then again how many people who don't follow tech sites or who do not read up on their gadgets know that they can do this on their device?

posted on 28 Feb 2013, 23:53 4

4. MartianMe (unregistered)


And this is America...land of freedom ..right?
pretty soon we won't even be able to choose between plastic or paper in this damn country anymore.

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 00:35

7. Furbal (Posts: 230; Member since: 22 Sep 2012)


Already happening in some Texas cities. In fact you have to bring your own germ infested nylon bags.

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 00:04 2

5. Gawain (Posts: 342; Member since: 15 Apr 2010)


Neither the Obama admin nor the FCC can do anything about statutory law. Congress needs to pass new legislation which would reverse that provision of the law. All the Obama admin had to do was introduce legislation or work with a few members of Congress to sponsor a bill in the relevant committee and put it up for a vote.

@MartianMe, already plastic bags are banned in San Francisco other fruits-and-nuts towns in California.

@Dr.Phil nailed it.

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 02:31

9. 5odead (Posts: 5; Member since: 30 Nov 2012)


Did they really banned some fruits and nuts?

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 03:01 1

10. MartianMe (unregistered)


That's it i'm moving to Canada :) Lol..

posted on 01 Mar 2013, 12:23

17. RapidCat (Posts: 351; Member since: 12 Jun 2012)


#prayforamerica

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