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Regarding Cell Phone Unlocking in the US


Regarding Cell Phone Unlocking in the US

As many of you may (or may not) be aware, under current US Law, unauthorized unlocking or unlocking using third parties is illegal. In order to unlock your phone, you must request the permission of your carrier, and they'll provide the unlock code to you, provided you meet eligibility requirements. This is due to the broad ban on circumventing digital locks, set by the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). While it is primarily for the purpose of preventing piracy, it's still applicable to the carrier lock placed on mobile phones.There was an exception requested, and granted, by the EFF (Electronics Frontier Foundation) to the FCC, to allow unlocking and jailbreaking of devices (along with a few other permissions). They only set a limited window for that, though. The window for unlocking has now expired. (Jailbreaking has been permitted until 2015, when the extension will have to be reinstated, canceled, or a law must be proposed.) That, however, may soon change. The House of Representatives passed a bill earlier today that would grant mobile users the ability to unlock their phones witout permission and without risk of facing legal ramifications. This bill still has a way to go, but is paving way into liberating our mobile phones from carriers.


U.S. House passes bill on mobile phone 'unlocking'
WASHINGTON Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:51pm EST

(Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would give mobile-phone users the right to "unlock" their devices and use them on competitors' wireless networks, although Senate action was uncertain.

The House approved the bill easily, by a 295-114 vote, although some Democrats had pushed back against what they said was a last-minute Republican maneuver to change the legislation.

It is not known whether the Senate will consider the bill.

U.S. wireless carriers often tether, or "lock," smartphones to their networks to encourage consumers to renew their mobile contracts. Consumers, for their part, can often buy new devices at a heavily subsidized price in return for committing to long-term contracts with a single carrier.

Major carriers, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US and U.S. Cellular, in December made a voluntary pledge to make it easier for consumers to unlock their cellphones, under pressure from consumer groups and the Federal Communications Commission.

Under current law, those unlocking their phones without permission could face legal ramifications, including jail.

The notion of undoing that law has had wide support from Republicans and Democrats since the bill's introduction in the House in 2013.

But the bill's author, Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, added language after the bill had been approved by a partisan majority of the House Judiciary Committee, banning "bulk unlocking."

Consumer advocates have argued that customers should be allowed to sell their old devices to third parties that could unlock phones in bulk, something the wireless industry opposes.

Four Democrats, led by California Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo, wrote to their colleagues on Tuesday to protest the bulk unlocking exclusion.

The new provision "could undercut an important court decision that protects consumer choice and prevents monopolistic practices. We cannot in good conscience support a bill that risks giving up so much for so little gain," the Democrats said.

A consumer rights group, Public Knowledge, last week suspended its support of the bill.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny and Alina Selyukh; Editing by Peter Cooney)



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Re: Regarding Cell Phone Unlocking in the US

However Calif passed a law in 2006 which at&t has been in violation since its passage it basically states that the consumer can at anytime change plans services or carriers so locking your phone to them would make at&t the law breakers its a 10 page change in the wireless service in Calif.
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Re: Regarding Cell Phone Unlocking in the US

Message 3 of 4

Re: Regarding Cell Phone Unlocking in the US

That is only true if you walk in and pay full price for the phone . And AT&T has NO problem unlocking a phone when you pay retail price for it . However when they subsidize the phone they have a vested interest in keeping it locked to their service , for the term of the contract . Once that contract has been fulfilled they will gladly unlock your phone . When they gave you a phone at a steep discount off of retail , you agreed to use their service for a specified length of time . If that time has expired AT&Ts policy is to unlock the phone if a request is recieved "from the owner" . They will not unlock it before that or they have no way of keeping you there , and paying for the phone . If you terminate the contract and pay the early termination fees they will unlock the phone also . Pretty much the ony time they wont unlock a phone is if they are owed money for the phone . 

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