Unlocking smartphones

February 1st, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Pat Pilcher writes at NZ Herald:

Every once and a while a law is passed that really gives you pause for thought. One such example is an inexplicable piece of legislation about to come into force in the US that will see smartphone users unlocking their phones with the permission of their mobile service provider running afoul of the law.

This bizarre situation came about because the US government applied the same sort of loopy wisdom that you’d associate with walkshorts, cardigans and the public sector.

In a nutshell they worked out that smartphones could contravene the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Bizarrely this then resulted in laws being drafted so that while it is legal to jailbreak smartphones, it will become illegal to jailbreak tablets and even more annoyingly, illegal to unlock phones without permission from the telco you bought your phone from.

How ridiculous.

Whilst most telcos would argue that there is a solid commercial reason for this legislation, in that they’re wanting to ensure that the cost of a subsidised and heavily discounted handset is recovered from the duration of the customers mobile contract and don’t want the customer exiting their plan prematurely.

If they do, then you may have breach of contract. That is what they do in NZ – you have to pay more to change providers early on if you got a discounted handset. There is absolutely no need to have this as criminal law.

This is almost an abuse of law making powers. It will I am sure be widely ignored.

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15 Responses to “Unlocking smartphones”

  1. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Trans Pacific Partnership…………………..

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  2. pq (728 comments) says:

    Farrar about control of personal, I rang the ASB bank, 0800803804, I said I need some money desperate, my name Paul. They said what is your number I said 12-3149 -98877690.She said give me code special bank number I said I do not know what the code number is. I can not remember, I have lost the records. She said Auckland, not that’s where I am I am in Mumbay, where’s that India, you want to talk to controller.Reader dear reader you have to realise how desperate the situation was. I had lost my wallet.The controller came on. He said what your number I said I can not remember can you do a voice search. He said this is India, do you think I am going to release your Family Trust just so that Bangkok Wan can go down to buy yellow dress.

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  3. RRM (9,435 comments) says:

    Smoke another cone pq, you’re making far too much sense…

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  4. pq (728 comments) says:

    Mr RBM off subject, no its not, its on subject
    I never take drugs now, I used to, but those days are gone I lost my wallet, I rang up the ASB for money,
    I could not even buy food, although I still had good house, and most beautiful wife,I bet there are few men that come to this column who fear the empty bank account and face that utter humiliation Mr RBM.
    . It was disgusting RBM utterly disgusting

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  5. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    PQ – youll be asking for donations soon……………

    where you live? Nigeria……..

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  6. Reid (15,925 comments) says:

    the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

    …bought to you by Hollyweird, music and media companies and the US politicians who want the generous campaign contributions those parties make so very much they’re prepared to sell out the people they are supposed to represent.

    And that’s it. Notice there has been no popular uprising demanding this law.

    And as barry astutely points out, soon also to apply to us courtesy of the TPP. Except our equation is going to be, is Key and the rest of the Nats going to be prepared to sell out the NZ electorate so he can make the TPP the crowning glory of his Administration?

    I never take drugs now

    Perhaps the ones you used to take haven’t worn off yet pq.

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  7. Viking2 (11,126 comments) says:

    Lefties are the same everywhere. They just have to find a way to interfere in sthings that are really none of their business and where the persons with the problem should be told to piss off and work it out for themselves in a proper commercial manner.

    We have that problem here.

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  8. Griff (6,719 comments) says:

    I would say its more a function of crony capitalism. V2
    protecting the profits by taking the consumers right to do as he pleases with his purchases.

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  9. Johnboy (14,961 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t know how to unlock a smart phone.

    I suspect my phone is smarter than me! :)

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  10. hmmokrightitis (1,508 comments) says:

    And Im sure someone somewhere will tell us that this law will be enforced…how. And the telco’s / service providers will know a device has been jail broken…how.

    Stupidity.

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  11. Reid (15,925 comments) says:

    And Im sure someone somewhere will tell us that this law will be enforced…how.

    Rendition, followed up with intensive waterboarding.

    That’s my guess.

    P.S. Isn’t it interesting “rendition” is in the WordPress spellcheck dictionary when so many other words aren’t.

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  12. Fletch (6,018 comments) says:

    This is the way the laws are headed in the U.S and the U.N.
    Lock everything down – control, control…

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  13. Reid (15,925 comments) says:

    This is the way the laws are headed in the U.S and the U.N.

    Yes it is Fletch. Trouble is, the useless idiots who think, for example, the “war on tewwor” is designed to “pwotect us” haven’t seen them yet, and from all current signs, they won’t, ever, till those very laws that they cheered and clapped swing into action.

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  14. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Legislate against unlocking phones? Sure, why not. It’s not like the US has bigger problems they should be dealing with!

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  15. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, north of the border providers will be required to unlock phones and cap charges.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/01/28/tech-wireless-code-of-conduct-draft-crtc.html

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