A chat with the Wireless Association on cellphone unlocking

by on March 6, 2013 · 2 comments

I just had a very respectful, reasoned, and, most importantly, informative conversation with Derek Khanna and CTIA on Twitter. It helps clarify a lot about the debate over cellphone unlocking, and I thought I’d share it with you after the jump.

The fact is that carriers today offer a [wide range of unlocked devices](http://blog.ctia.org/2013/03/04/unlocked-devices-2/) for sale, so you never have to worry about unlocking or breaking the law. In fact, almost all of the phones Verizon sells are always unlocked. And as far as I can tell, almost all carriers will unlock your phone, once you end your contract, if you just ask. This is all truly great for consumers.

So I don’t understand why carriers should be opposed to an unlocking DMCA exemption. (To be clear, I’m not aware of individual carriers taking positions on the matter, but their trade association did [file](http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2012/comments/Bruce_G._Joseph.pdf) in the most recent proceeding against the exemption.) It would be better if their customers didn’t have to ask for permission before unlocking a phone that happens to be locked—especially since carriers are willing to give that permission. And if unlocking is no big deal as long as you live up to your contractual obligations, I don’t understand why there should be limits on who can do the unlocking. Here is the exchange:

  • Pingback: A chat with the Wireless Association on cellphone unlocking « Internet Freedom Coalition()

  • http://twitter.com/catfitz CatherineFitzpatrick

    I think the answer is probably something like this: with 7 million phones “jail-broken” as Scoble and a hacker reported recently, obviously most people doing the jailbreaking aren’t observing the contract and waiting until it is fulfilled or asking permission. They do this in order to have cheaper or free voice over the Internet or whatever they need to do with their jailbroken phones. Of the more than 100,000 people who signed the whitehouse.gov/petitions call on the president, how many do you think really have properly unlocked or released phones? What they want is to be able to do what they want, when they want it. So the telecoms have no reason to endorse this copyleftism further, that is de facto the case for a growing number, by ratifying it in law where the fine print is disregarded. That enlarges in fact the space for illegality. You give an inch, they take a mile.

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