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House passes bill to legalize cell phone unlocking

By Himanshu Arora · 14 replies
Feb 26, 2014
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  1. The US House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill that would make unlocking your phone legal again. Dubbed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, the bill got the required number of votes (295-114) to pass.

    Read more
  2. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder TS Evangelist Posts: 2,151   +588

    The fact that unlocking a phone that you purchased being made a big deal is shocking to say the least. What am I not allowed to modify the computer I buy or my car?
    wastedkill likes this.
  3. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,439   +862

    Another perk to buying my phones used off kijiji.
  4. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,932   +1,162

    "..still prohibits bulk unlocking of devices for the purpose of resale -- a provision which was added to the bill just before the vote."

    No 'BULK' unlocking?!?!? - as in 'NO RECYCLING"?? What is the sense of this except to promulgate waste?
    wastedkill likes this.
  5. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    Wow never knew house could change laws good one you! Glad to see House doing more versus just being a extremely good and funny doctor.
  6. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,152   +1,411

    No, not at all. Unlocking a phone means it can work on more than one network. So... if you want to buy a used phone just pick your carrier and then get a phone for that carrier. Why would anyone need to unlock phones in bulk anyway? If you have a bunch of used locked phones to sell, just sell them to people who are using the right network. If you buy a locked phone now you're able to unlock it yourself, so no problem there either.

    it's a big deal for individuals because now they can change carriers without having to get a new phone.
  7. Huh? Unlocking a Cell Phone was illegal? That's ridiculous.
  8. Experimentongod

    Experimentongod TS Maniac Posts: 293   +124

    I had no idea either! Normally in the US they get to have all the good stuff, glad to see they're fixing this.
  9. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,932   +1,162

    "the bill disallows cell phone unlocking in order to conduct “bulk unlocking.” In other words, businesses can’t buy phones, unlock them, and sell them to interested consumers. "

    Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile...sses-u-s-house-advocates-happy/#ixzz2uTKUnrjt

    So you only benefit if you do your own unlocking. Competition denied.
  10. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,152   +1,411

    Another quote from the article...."According to the bill, users can unlock cell phones, so long as it is “initiated by the owner"
    So you're free to unlock any phone you want after you buy it from a business who isn't allowed to unlock phones. You're also free to buy locked phones, unlock them, and sell them on ebay. Competition restored.

    I still don't even really understand how this is that much of a problem for businesses. They can just sell the phone to someone who's using the carrier the phone is for. The article you linked says..."by excluding business that purchase, unlock, and sell unlocked cell phones, Congress can use copyright law to dish out punishment to bulk resellers, even though these businesses do not infringe on any copyright." That's a rather meaningless statement. What they don't explain is allowing businesses to unlock phones would go against the DMCA (digital millennium copyright act), and that probably means a whole bunch of extra legal hoops to jump through to get that law fixed. It would also hold up allowing consumers to unlock phones.

    And considering the upside is this theoretical 'less electronic waste' argument, I can see why they took the quick and easy way to make sure the law got passed and helped out people who want to switch carriers.

    If anything this whole thing should be used as yet another example of govt passing laws (the DCMA) that have unintended consequences. Govt is big on ideology, poor on execution.
  11. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,932   +1,162

    I think the law would consider the person who bought 2 locked phones, unlocked them and then sold them on ebay as a 'bulk reseller' and therefore subject to a $500,000 fine.

    Personal use 'ok' - purchase for resale - not 'ok'.
  12. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,758   +1,149

    I'm from a land south of the world, where at a point the ocean meets the skies, where women are beautiful and children play on the streets, where the cellphone is actually yours and the number too even when you switch companies.

    Chile is where I'm from, South America, where net neutrality is enforced by law, where you aquire a phone you can unlock from the companies site, where your number is actually yours to move around as you please between companies.

    The rest of "wheres" are pretty crappy so I'll stop there :p
  13. Mbloof

    Mbloof TS Rookie Posts: 56   +7

    - Opps, we ordered to many of these unpopular and not selling devices for our network, to bad we can't dump them on a wholeseller who in turn could bulk unlock them to be sold elsewhere. (the carriers here are loosing out)

    - Darn, our enterprise really wants to switch carriers but we can't bulk unlock our phones to do it.

    - I suppose that criminals who steal pallets of cell phones at a time would likely simply ignore this provision and "bulk unlock" phones for resell on rival networks.
  14. The DMCA is a flaming piece of horse sh1t
  15. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 849   +352

    1. the first one is a good point but also forces business into the same situation they have been in for years, just keep a close eye on inventory, don't over order or your gonna lose money.

    2. the enterprise prob could since there not selling the phone they are a customer and own the phones for actual usage not for resale so they would prob be allowed to unlock to switch carriers.

    3. there already breaking the law and if caught can get another $500,000 fine or prob more jail time added on for the stealing.

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