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Welcome to 2013: It Is Now a Crime to Unlock Your Smartphone

mrtmrt Posts: 5,021Member ✭✭✭
edited January 2013 in Entertainment and Humor
Posted on by Michael Krieger
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This is exactly the sort of arbitrary legislation that was used to punish Aaron Swartz and what ultimately led to his suicide.  I have many close friends whose parents fled the USSR in the second half of the 20th Century and all of them have told me that this is exactly what the Soviets did in order to make everyone a criminal by default. That way the government can then go after anyone they don’t like at any time.  This is also a great time to read up on the post I wrote recently titled A Broken Justice System: “Most Americans Commit About Three Felonies a Day”.

Our country is becoming more of a totalitarian state by the day.  From The Atlantic:

ADVISORY

BY DECREE OF THE LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS

IT SHALL HENCEFORCE BE ORDERED THAT AMERICANS SHALL NOT UNLOCK THEIR OWN SMARTPHONES.

PENALTY: In some situations, first time offenders may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for five years, or both. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $1,000,000, imprisonment for up to ten years, or both.*

That’s right, starting this weekend it is illegal to unlock new phones to make them available on other carriers.

It’s embarrassing and unacceptable that we are at the mercy of prosecutorial and judicial discretion** to avoid the implementation of draconian laws that could implicate average Americans in a crime subject to up to a $500,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

But there is another matter of critical importance: Laws that can place people in jail should be passed by Congress, not by the decree of the Librarian of Congress. We have no way to hold the Librarian of Congress accountable for wildly unfair laws. There are still plenty of crazy laws passed by elected officials, but at least we can then vote them out of office.

And if you thought this was bad, provisions of the DMCA relating to anti-circumvention are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Treaty — and the United States is the party asking for it as part of the negotiations. Placing it in the treaty will enact our dysfunctional system on an international level in countries that don’t want it, and it will “re-codify” the DMCA in an international treaty making it significantly more difficult to revise as necessary. Copyright laws are domestic laws and they need to be flexible enough to adjust accordingly to not inhibit new innovation.

Just another reason to be very concerned with the TPP.  Land of the free.

Full article here.

Comments

  • AbsintheurAbsintheur Posts: 6,429V2 Veteran ✭✭
    What about laws that retroactively make people a felon for something that happened before it was illegal?

    Our lawmakers really need a reality check.
  • sephiroth726sephiroth726 Posts: 134Member
    this is ridiculous... just more proof that corporations have our government in their pockets... I'm going to be sick
  • parrotladyparrotlady Posts: 686Member
    edited January 2013
    Agree, but here's a little perspective:

    http://www.androidcentral.com/what-you-need-know-abut-cell-phone-unlocking

    The good news is that, as the Librarian of Congress points out, carriers have "liberal, publicly available unlocking policies." AT&T will unlock your phone for you once you meet their criteria. So will Verizon. And that criteria hasn't changed now that the DMCA covers unlocking. Nine times out of ten, they will shoot you an unlock code if your bill is current and you have a legitimate need to use it. 

    The gray area comes from using third-party unlocking sites. Under the letter of the law, these folks may be committing a crime if they do this sort of business in he U.S.

    Existing phones aren't affected, only phones you purchase in the future. Also, the primary goal of the bill is to prevent third-parties from reselling unlocked phones at a profit. Individuals will not likely be affected. Do read the whole article. Also, the comments:

    And you, random internet person, are the personification of the "TL;DR" blog browser. If you actually pay for your phone (the real price, not the 2 year contract price) then this doesn't and has never affected you! When you sign that 2 year contract you agree to have your phone locked and out of your control.

    And:

    The law only applies to.phones bought directly from the carrier (or their authorized resellers of course ) so a device bought second hand -even if listed as new - on eBay or Craigslisr is exempt.

    Also if you walk into a carrier store and buy say a One X+ full price the carrier will unlock it for you.


  • DaddyCatDaddyCat Posts: 6,786Member ✭✭
    Ahhhhh the dang "other side of the story" way to go @parrotlady, dashing my rage against "the man". :D
  • parrotladyparrotlady Posts: 686Member
    @DaddyCat, someone on another list said the same thing. :) I was outraged too, so I did some reading. There's a lot of misrepresentation out there about this law, which doesn't apply to anyone's existing phone or any phone that is fully paid for. The phone companies only want to recoup the cost of phones that are free or heavily discounted by locking you into their service contract for a period of time. During that time, it's now illegal to unlock the phone. Once it's paid for, it's yours.
  • MikeVMikeV Posts: 511Member
    I've always held the belief that when you sign into a contract, willingly and uncoerced, you should abide by the terms of the contract.  While I think that the potential punishment for violating the law is pretty severe, those levels of fines and possible jail time are reserved for the most severe violators - not the average Joe who unlocks their cell phone.  This is similar to the P2/P3 satellite card hacking days.  The guy who bought a hacked card or card unlooper and got caught generally faced a $5000 to $10,000 settlement with DTV.  But if you were distributing hacked cards or selling unloopers, you faced a much more severe penalty.
  • CynsonyaCynsonya Posts: 5,367Member
    If I am under contract I have no problem following the rules set forth.
  • JmanJman Posts: 3,050Member
    DaddyCat said:
    Ahhhhh the dang "other side of the story" way to go @parrotlady, dashing my rage against "the man". :D
    Exactly how I felt.

    I don't appreciate this 'other side of the story.' The original side was far more interesting. 
  • MSmith447MSmith447 Posts: 255Member
    wow how ridic....
  • MikeVMikeV Posts: 511Member
    imageAhh... those were the days...  >:)
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