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Starting Today, It's Illegal to Unlock Your Cellphone

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Jenky, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Jenky

    Jenky Well-Known Member

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    You likely have a cellphone that you bought from a carrier, like AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, and that phone only works on that carrier's cellular and data network -- unless you "unlock" it.

    That is a software process that allows the phone to work on other carriers if you put in a new SIM card or want to take the phone to another carrier for service.

    If that sounds complicated to you and like something you wouldn't bother with, then today's news won't matter to you. But if that's something you've done before or have thought about doing, then you should know that starting today it is illegal to unlock a subsidized phone or tablet that's bought through a U.S. carrier.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/now-illegal-unlock-cellphone/story?id=18319518


    White House Petition:
    http://wh.gov/yA9n
  2. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    These petitions are laughed at. They don't care what "We The People" are petitioning about anyway.
  3. chip_gilkey

    chip_gilkey Active Member

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    The only time I can remember the people's voice being listened to is during the Stop SOPA and PIPA campaigns. Boy did the politicians pull that one back in a hurry after the backlash from the public came out.
  4. Doomsday

    Doomsday Rising Star

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    Just one more example of a ruling that ignores the law and logic, while protecting a corporations financial interests.

    That is like saying if I buy a Windows PC, I cannot put linux on it. Makes no sense.

    Who owns the phone, the wireless provider or us? The discount you get on the phone is paid for through the service agreement, this is total BS to me.
  5. rkell87

    rkell87 Well-Known Member

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    doesn't matter, they keep slipping parts of it in other bills till they get what they want
  6. Illini88228

    Illini88228 Well-Known Member

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    In their defense, most of the petitions are pretty stupid.
  7. TheKey

    TheKey Faster than Felix

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    In light of the recent news that the carriers WILL unlock your phone after your contract is up OR if you pay the early termination fee, I actually agree with this ruling. When you bought the cheap phone, you paid only a fraction of the cost. The carrier subsidized the majority of the cost on the condition that you stay with their service. You want them to help pay for your phone and to let you go use it on another carrier? It doesn't make sense for them.

    To be clear, it is not illegal to unlock your phone. It is illegal to unlock your phone if you are under contract, which you signed.
  8. Manwiththeplan

    Manwiththeplan Well-Known Member

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    Not only that, but people that steal phones and attempt to activate them without getting caught do this I believe. I'm not sure how they attempt enforce this, but it seems like it's a good idea.
  9. Vtwin

    Vtwin Power and Performance

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    Aren't you still bound by the contract? Unlocked or not you are still either paying the monthly bill or have payed the ETF.
  10. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    Let's leave the political talkout of the conversation .
  11. Hoofbite

    Hoofbite Well-Known Member

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    Well this pretty much makes all the difference.

    To say you can't unlock a phone at all is ridiculous. Should they say that you can't do it will under contract, that's well within reason. I'm not sure a law was needed for it because it was likely already written into the contract but it is what it is.
  12. Muhast

    Muhast Newo

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    I'm pretty sure you can call and request an unlock code from your service provider and they have to give it to you.

    It is illegal to "jailbreak"/"unlock" it on your own, but you can request an unlock code for your device through your cell provider and they will give you one as long as you fit one of the following: 1. Contract is over or about to expire. 2. You tell them you are planning to buy out/terminate early, 3. You travel abroad and need it to be unlocked for use of the other cell towers.

    So 3 is the easiest way. Not that you actually have to travel or anything, just tell them you are planning to and you need the code. T-Mobile is really easy about this, they were openly campaigning for people to bring unlocked phones and get their contracts, so they will give it out with very little resistance.

    The easiest way is to just call and ask for it. ATT is the hardest to get the code from, but from my experience, Sprint/Verizon/T-Mobile aren't too difficult to get the code assuming you just call and tell them what's going on, your fine.

    Fwiw.
  13. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    Right, this is what makes this decision a proper one. It's also only illegal if you're under contract and your carrier prevents you from unlocking. Your carrier can certainly allow unlocking if they so choose -- and some do.

    The key issue here is that you don't own the operating system on your phone. You own a license to use that operating system. And the manufacturer can place restrictions on your license. If you don't like it, don't buy (or license) their products.
  14. TheKey

    TheKey Faster than Felix

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    I don't think number 3 is possible. Maybe the other carriers but I didnt have luck when I tried ATT.

    In Europe phone companies cannot forbid you from unlocking your phone at any time and moving to a new carrier. However, it comes with a price. They pay full price for their phones (iPhone around Euro 800, so actually a 20% bump as well).
  15. Muhast

    Muhast Newo

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    I have never tried ATT. I know people online complain about it a lot.

    T-Mo is very easy. Barely put up any fight at all. I don't think the others are two tough either.
  16. Denim Chicken

    Denim Chicken Well-Known Member

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    This is BS. You own the phone and should be able to do whatever you want with it. What you're saying is akin to buying a car, but you can't modify the computer settings because you don't own the software license. The Govt shouldn't be getting involved in this anyway.
  17. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    No he is right.

    If you want to buy the phone you can buy one unlocked at FULL PRICE. There is nothing forcing you in not buying a full priced unlocked phone...heck some people do that when a new phone is put out. You buy it from ATT or one of the other providers you are buying it a greatly reduced price and in doing so agree to only use their service.

    If you want to compare it to a car it would be like LEASING a car not flat out buying a car.

    This day and age it amazes me the number of people who will sign a contract and just don't think they should honor it....that goes for both parties of the contract.
  18. Denim Chicken

    Denim Chicken Well-Known Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but to get the reduced price on the phone you have to sign a two-year contract. So you are already agreeing to use their service or pay a cancellation fee. Now if you do chose to pay the fee or another company buys out your contract you don't have to give the phone back, so I don't think they should tell you what to do with your property. They should actually make the phone a lease if they want to restrict your actions.
  19. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    You own the phone. You don't own the software. If you want to completely erase the software (and there was some way to do that), you could. That's not illegal.
  20. Denim Chicken

    Denim Chicken Well-Known Member

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    It's not illegal to 'jailbreak' your device (or 'root') and modify settings other than the SIM. Also, not sure if still true, but it was possible to 'unlock' your phone with a hardware mod-leaving the software unaltered--so should that be illegal too?

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