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Technician
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Unlocking Cellphones Becomes Illegal Saturday in the U.S.
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 unlocking cellphones 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 Jan. 26.

Unlocking a phone frees it from restrictions that keep the device from working on more than one carrier's network, allowing it run on other networks that use the same wireless standard. This can be useful to international travelers 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 cellphones 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.

Remember, don't modify your property.

Old Post 02-04-13 02:42 #
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Clonehunter
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Well...

Fuck

Old Post 02-04-13 02:57 #
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Nomad
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Wait, wasn't there a supreme court ruling just a year or so ago that said that preventing unlocking of phones/digital devices was illegal? I mean, wouldn't this be included in that that ruling about Apple preventing jailbreaking?

Old Post 02-04-13 03:08 #
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Technician
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Nomad said:
Wait, wasn't there a supreme court ruling just a year or so ago that said that preventing unlocking of phones/digital devices was illegal? I mean, wouldn't this be included in that that ruling about Apple preventing jailbreaking?
The wants of big business trumps the peoples rights once again.

Sign the petition, it's the only thing you can do besides taking the matter to the supreme court.

Old Post 02-04-13 03:12 #
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hex11
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Well that just means I'll keep using my old Net10 voice/text only brick-style phone and not upgrade to a smartphone.

Old Post 02-04-13 03:24 #
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GreyGhost
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Technician said:
Sign the petition, it's the only thing you can do besides taking the matter to the supreme court.
There's something else you can do, don't buy phones that are locked.

Old Post 02-04-13 04:13 #
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Technician
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GreyGhost said:
There's something else you can do, don't buy phones that are locked.
At this point, that limits you greatly, and I'm sure providers are going to make great efforts to exclude any manufacturer that provides unlocked phones.

But even so, the point is you shouldn't have to fight corporations with your money -- it's the fact the government is siding with them and making it a crime to modify your own possession. You need to make changes to the government using democracy, not capitalism.

Last edited by Technician on 02-04-13 at 04:33

Old Post 02-04-13 04:27 #
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Maes
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It has always really been a lot simpler than that:


  • If you walk into a cell phone store and say "Hi, I'm Joe Average, I want a cellphone and nothing else" you'd pay a relatively steep price up front, get an entirely 'pristine' phone (no operator logos, no network locks, etc.) and be on your merry way.
  • Enter into a phone services' shop. They will sell you a phone at a heavily discounted price or "discount price" or even "free" alright...if you also sign into this mandatory 3-year subscription contract at network X. Early out means penalties etc. and your ass belongs to them the phone is locked while that lasts.


AFAIK it's still perfectly feasible to buy a never-been-locked, no-strings-attached phone just by itself, and yours forever, but the price to pay, especially for a Samsung Galaxy or iPhone 5-class device may easily exceed that of a new laptop, compared to getting it "subsidized" in a minimum mandatory contract with company X (which is, practically, like paying for it with monthly deposits). Doesn't sound such a good deal now, does it? And of course the companies don't want you to break the terms of their "loan" or "lease" to you.

Otherwise everybody would sign up into some fancy plan, get the TOTL phone of the week for a dime, then cop out and keep the phone. Yeah, really a good deal...

Old Post 02-04-13 09:07 #
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Wow, Americas government really does have its head up its arse

Old Post 02-04-13 11:05 #
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printz
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I don't live in US, but they really have no business what I do with my objects in private.

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Old Post 02-04-13 11:34 #
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Maes
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printz said:
I don't live in US, but they really have no business what I do with my objects in private.


I think they can from some time now, according to the DMCA. Essentially, if some anti-tampering feature is there to safeguard legit private profit in any function, they say that you have no right to mess with it, even if it's technically trivial to do so. Even if an impediment/lock if purely symbolic, you still have to respect it.

Old Post 02-04-13 12:34 #
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Springy
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I think a person should be able to unlock their phone if they wish. Say if someone gets given a phone from their parents because theirs is broken and they have a different network sim card a person should be able to unlock said phone so they can use their sim on it.

Old Post 02-04-13 15:26 #
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exp(x)


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Nomad said:
Wait, wasn't there a supreme court ruling just a year or so ago that said that preventing unlocking of phones/digital devices was illegal? I mean, wouldn't this be included in that that ruling about Apple preventing jailbreaking?

As I understand it, jailbreaking a phone to put a custom ROM on it (eg. CyanogenMod) or for other software hacks is legal, but unlocking for the purpose of switching carriers is not.

Old Post 02-04-13 15:28 #
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printz
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Maes said:


I think they can from some time now, according to the DMCA. Essentially, if some anti-tampering feature is there to safeguard legit private profit in any function, they say that you have no right to mess with it, even if it's technically trivial to do so. Even if an impediment/lock if purely symbolic, you still have to respect it.

If it results in me stealing bandwidth, sure. If it doesn't, no-one should care unless they want me fined/imprisoned for some reason. Since fines give them revenues, I should be a bit aware of it.

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Old Post 02-04-13 16:29 #
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Quasar
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We've tried democracy, we've tried petitions and protests. They don't work any more. It's time to try something else, in my opinion. The message needs to be made clear that we don't just want an end to the loss of our freedoms. We want back what has already been taken.

Old Post 02-04-13 17:35 #
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caco_killer
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sgt dopey said:
Wow, Americas government really does have its head up its arse


We have to protect the "job creators."

Old Post 02-04-13 19:59 #
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caco_killer said:
We have to protect the "job creators."
Phone made in China.

Call service provider and talk to an Indian.

Old Post 02-04-13 20:15 #
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GreyGhost
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Technician said:
But even so, the point is you shouldn't have to fight corporations with your money -- it's the fact the government is siding with them and making it a crime to modify your own possession. You need to make changes to the government using democracy, not capitalism.
Democratic change is not an option (at least not in the short to medium term) when both major political parties side with the corporations, you either vote with your wallet or take up arms.


Maes said:
It has always really been a lot simpler than that:


If you walk into a cell phone store and say "Hi, I'm Joe Average, I want a cellphone and nothing else" you'd pay a relatively steep price up front, get an entirely 'pristine' phone (no operator logos, no network locks, etc.) and be on your merry way.

That's what I did. Admittedly it's just a basic phone, but it's unlocked and mine to connect to whichever network I choose.

Old Post 02-05-13 00:32 #
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GreyGhost said:
There's something else you can do, don't buy phones that are locked.


Technician said:
At this point, that limits you greatly, and I'm sure providers are going to make great efforts to exclude any manufacturer that provides unlocked phones.

If there's demand for unlocked phones, companies will satisfy that demand. End of story.

Old Post 02-05-13 01:05 #
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caco_killer said:
We have to protect the "job creators."
Cronyism and sweetheart deals don't protect job creators. Deregulation and low taxation does. Get your ideology straight.

Old Post 02-05-13 01:10 #
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Maes
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AndrewB said:
If there's demand for unlocked phones, companies will satisfy that demand. End of story.


Cell phone companies always sold and still sell "unlocked" phones (aka phones NOT "branded" by a particular carrier). However, surprise surprise, private individuals are NOT the #1 customers of "raw" cell phones, network carriers are (which then they issue to customers).

Why? Because they always cost too damn much to buy alone. Yeah, today there are cheap phones that you could buy and throw away (some years ago, they even advocated using minimal throwaway, single-use phones), but most covered TOTL phones cost like an average monthly wage or several rents. When someone says "I want to OWN my phone" they often mean owning a TOTL iPhone 5 or Galaxy Samsung, not some minimal "non-smart" GSM gizmo with a B&W gameboy display.

The solution? The network carriers essentially lease you an expensive device by making you think that you "pay" for it at a fraction of the cost, otherwise very few people would be able to afford any of those fancy smartphones that cost like a full-fledged laptop, let alone change them each year or even faster.

Of course carriers are not too happy when you terminate your contract and try keeping the device (most contracts actually have "early out" penalties with monthly amortization of the device's cost, so the earlier you cop out, the more you have to pay in order to keep the device, unless you are given the option to hand it in). And they are even less happy if you try jailbreaking it: it is, after all, still their property (check the small print in your subscription plan). Would a car leasing company be happy if you erased the serial numbers or modded THEIR cars?

And that's before we even start treading into DMCA-covered territory. This is simply about modifying something that -surprise, surprise- DOES NOT belong to you (check the fine print). Why do you think you can only switch carriers only after your contract ends (and the company made ends meet and covered device and other costs) or if you pay some form of "bail" for your phone?

Old Post 02-05-13 07:27 #
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Neat. 80% of everything I do is illegal anyway, so pile it on.

Old Post 02-05-13 19:17 #
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Maes
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Justince said:
Neat. 80% of everything I do is illegal anyway, so pile it on.


Care to elaborate? Just so we can get some ideas to spice our life, you know :-p

Old Post 02-05-13 19:43 #
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NiTROACTiVE
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Good lord, so after this law becomes active does this mean that if you plan on buying a new cell phone then you won't be able to lock it? If that's the case, than it going to kill cell phone sales by a lot in the US.

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Old Post 02-06-13 03:55 #
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Maes
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NiTROACTiVE said:
Good lord, so after this law becomes active does this mean that if you plan on buying a new cell phone then you won't be able to lock it? If that's the case, than it going to kill cell phone sales by a lot in the US.


Wrong, if you buy a phone WHOLESALE and OUTSIDE of a network provider's plan (to the extent that it's possible) you can do pretty much whatever you wish with it (within the limits of the DMCA of course, if it contains patented algorithms and decryption hardware. It's not any different than being "forbidden" from hacking your DVD player's CSS decryption). Why? Because you will pay a pretty penny for it, and you don't commit yourself to any provider.

That's a far cry from a provider leasing you a phone for pennies because they want to turn a profit and "milk" you with overpriced services for some guaranteed amount of time. Of course they won't be too happy if you "go AWOL" and walk away from their walled garden, taking your LEASED phone with you as if it was your property. Check out the fine print: it's not*

*at least not until you have stayed a contractually stated minimum time with a certain provider and they covered their planned profits. And even then, there's usually a "lease end" fee if you wish to keep it.

The law won't kill independent sales of phones (which very few people choose anyway, because of the steep prices), it will just enforce the carrier's walled garden business model.

Old Post 02-06-13 09:19 #
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NiTROACTiVE said:
Good lord, so after this law becomes active does this mean that if you plan on buying a new cell phone then you won't be able to lock it? If that's the case, than it going to kill cell phone sales by a lot in the US.

Yep, your keypad/touchscreen must be active at all times, ruining battery life and doing all sorts of crazy stuff in your pocket. This is to help boost sales of cases and special carrying pouches that mean the keys/screen only get pressed when you open the case or take the phone out of the puch.

Old Post 02-06-13 13:02 #
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hex11
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The battery on my old "gameboy screen" Nokia 1100 used to last forever. I must have only needed to charge in once every week or two. Granted I didn't talk for hours on end, but stiil... In comparion my current full-color phone with the same form factor and capabilities has to be charged at least twice as often, if not more. What a crock! I feel sorry with those who have the big smartphones that need charging every day. Anyway, I couldn't see myself trying to use the Internet very much on such tiny devices, with only touchscreen or tiny-ass keyboard. It would be fine in a pinch for a couple hours now and then, or if I had on-call sysadmin duty and the company was paying for it (so I can run ssh client anytime/anywhere), but I sure as hell can't justify the cost on my personal budget.

Old Post 02-06-13 14:08 #
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All depends on how you use it.

I have a SE Xperia Neo V. ATM it's showing 112h since I last charged it with an estimated 50h to go. Granted, if I were playing games on it it'd only last about 10-12 hours.

Old Post 02-07-13 06:32 #
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Maes
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Truth be said, modern smartphones are still pretty good at throttling down and standing by for calls, and when making standard GSM/EDGE calls they still last a reasonable amount of time: the telephony stacks are really no different than those of prev-gen non-smart phones, and benefit from the same optimizations that a mature, 20-year technology has.

Of course, the problem is that none gets a $1000 smartphone just to make and receive standard 2G calls and text messages: they'll want to use apps, use the browser, watch movies, play games etc. so battery life is simply secondary, and the li-ion technology has started to show its limits: you can't cram more mAhs in a cell unless you sacrifice something from current delivery, safety (most of the bulk of the battery are hardening and safety packaging!) etc.

This is yet another case of wanting the wife to be both a saint in public, and a whore in bed at the same time :-)


hex11 said:
In comparion my current full-color phone with the same form factor and capabilities has to be charged at least twice as often, if not more. What a crock!


Check out that "same capabilities" part: you might be surprised to find out that the old Nokia probably had a larger battery (both physically and in terms of capacity) than your newer phone. Simply because larger battery = larger capacity, at electrochemistry parity (and with "dead space" for strengthening, protection circuits etc. kept to a well designed minimum).

Last edited by Maes on 02-07-13 at 08:42

Old Post 02-07-13 08:32 #
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Aliotroph?
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I have no idea how long my secondhand iPhone 3GS would last in standby. This is because I always connect to the nearest wi-fi and start playing Scrabble. That kills batteries like crazy. I have a case with a battery pack in it and I'd be charging three times a day if I played Scrabble all day.

Of course my old Nokia phone that was only good for talking and marginally useful for texting will still last the best part of a week even though I got it in 2003. That's even one with a full-colour screen. It's also ridiculously durable. I dropped it at work and it broke in to four pieces, with the rubber keypad lying on the floor. I snapped everything back together and it was fine. Phone built for Vikings. :D

Old Post 02-07-13 09:14 #
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