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Monday, March 18, 2013

Phone Unlocking Petition Got Over 100,000 Signatures

It turned out that a White House online petition to lift the phone unlocking ban has already gathered over 110,000 signatures. Since the threshold for “We the People” petitions is 100,000, now the government will have to review or at least reply to the petition.
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The controversial ban was introduced in the beginning of the year and under this new legislation anyone who dares to unlock their own phone in the United States could face up to five years of prison time along with a $500,000 fine. Industry observers were not happy to hear such news. For example, Forbes described the new law as a “clear example” of copyright legislation gone crazy (which is true). In the meantime, the lawmakers pointed out that the underlying law is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, better known as DCMA. However, applying the legislation to cell phone unlocking is, we would say, a stretch.

Actually, the ban is considered as an example of crony capitalism, which is nothing new in post-Citizens United America. For example, this ban allows corporations to control how their gear is used after it is sold – this obviously violates property rights. Although phone companies may claim that they are renting their devices on 2-year plans, they actually are not – at least not now.

Industry experts compared the situation to the one when a car company is telling its clients that they can’t install new alloys. In the meantime, buying a modular assault rifle is still legitimate in the United States, and the accessory market is growing rapidly. Indeed, in most states you can install everything from a bayonet to a high-powered scope and high capacity magazine on almost any rifle, and it is absolutely legal. Yet unlocking a cell phone can lead you to a courtroom, facing some serious jail time...

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