EFF launches campaign to free phones from software locks

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is asking for the public's help in its new campaign to free cell phones from the software locks.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a U.S copyright law that prohibits circumventing anti-piracy measures that are built into commercial software. Many cell phone manufacturers and service providers build software locks to protect their business models instead of copyrighted material.

Often users come up with ways to connect to a new service provider or run the software of their choice. But the threat of litigation under the DMCA has made them adopt the options provided by the manufacturer without further questions.

Consumers need a DMCA exemption in cases where the DMCA aids the cell phone manufacturers reduce business competition and consumer choice. Every 3 years, the U.S. Copyright Office convenes a rulemaking to consider granting exemptions to the DMCA's ban to ease the consumer harm. EFF has already filed exemption requests with the Copyright Office addressing the issues in which public is also allowed to participate in the rulemaking proceeding.

You can sign the EFF's Petition to the Copyright Office and share your stories about cell phone frustrations before the February 2 deadline.


Image Courtesy: EFF

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All GSM phones not only should be unlocked, they should also have single unicode firmware, none of that regional firmwares with 3-5languages installed. Additional languages should be just an add-on localization files of the GUI available as free download from manufacturers website.
Firmwares should be left untouched by the cell phone carriers; Want to install addition junk/software/feature, ask the customer first if they want your menus and junk. Want to keep customer locked in contract, instead of selling locked cellphone, give customer an option of paying security deposit and give them unlocked and untouched firmware phone; at the end of 1yr or 2yr contract, send security deposit back or credit it towards their cell phone bill.
Corporations should start being customer focus and have lots and lots of options to make profit;
While EFF are at it, they should also push Microsoft and Hardware manufactures to frequently update ROMs and host them with out any of Serial Numbers or IMEI requirements.
Didn't mean to rant =)) My apologies in advance...

I sure hope that the iPhone will be unlocked one day... Why doesn't Apple unlock it already? They'll still be making a profit off the device even if it is unlocked...

With GSM unlocked phones, we need more GSM providers to choose from instead of ATT and Tmobile. Verizon and Sprint runs on CDMA and I bet people will complain that they can't use their iPhone with Verizon.

Oh for the love of....

It's really tiring seeing all these organizations rushing around trying to protect consumers from themselves. Here's the thing. Consumer control where their dollar goes. If they have no problem buying a locked phone then let them. If no one wants a locked phone then the demand will die off and guess what? You won't see locked phones around much longer.

Let's find something worthwhile to worry about, shall we?

C_Guy said,
Oh for the love of....

It's really tiring seeing all these organizations rushing around trying to protect consumers from themselves. Here's the thing. Consumer control where their dollar goes. If they have no problem buying a locked phone then let them. If no one wants a locked phone then the demand will die off and guess what? You won't see locked phones around much longer.

Let's find something worthwhile to worry about, shall we?

What if one day all phones become locked ???

I really will never never understand people like you who think consumers should not have any right while companies should be protected by an handful of strict laws.

I could be wrong but this is not legal for a consumer to unlock his OWN phone. Not only companies should be protected by laws but the consumers too. The way some people think these days is really disturbing.


The trouble is that many consumers don't realize what a locked phone means. I consider myself quite technically literate, but I found out what a locked phone meant the hard way. I'll share my story because it also represents how ridiculous the concept is (or perhaps just how ridiculous the companies go about it).

I am a "legacy" AT&T customer. That is, I was with AT&T before Cingular bought them out (and now Cingular is called AT&T again, for those who joined into cellphones recently). When they became Cingular my plan was still honored, my cellphone still worked, and I was a Cingular customer. I later wanted to buy a smartphone, and went with one through Cingular. This was a non-subsidized phone and didn't involve any plan changes on my part. I put my SIM card into the phone and received a lock error.

I was a Cingular customer, locked out of a Cingular phone. Why? Because my SIM card was a legacy AT&T one, not a Cingular one. I'd heard of being able to unlock phones, and called up Cingular for help. They wouldn't give me an unlock code, and told me to go to a Cingular store. I did, and they told me that they wouldn't unlock the phone for me, either. However, they could give me a Cingular SIM card - but only if I changed to one of the Cingular-offered plans. Since my plan with AT&T was much better, I didn't want to do that. So they told me that there was a little Chinese shop down the street, and for $5 or so they would unlock it for me.

I'm sure some people would claim that nothing was wrong with that entire scenario, but I will never be able to understand such reasoning. Cingular should have unlocked the phone for me, or they should have reprogrammed a Cingular SIM card without making me change my plan. I was a Cingular customer who bought a Cingular-branded phone, after all. I ended up returning that phone and buying an unbranded (unlocked) version of the phone.

I don't care how heavily the phone companies will subsidize a new model; I'll never buy a branded phone again. For people who change plans every time their contract expires, who don't plan to change providers, and/or who don't value their phone as a data device, going with a branded and subsidized phone probably makes sense. For anyone else, I highly recommend staying away from branded phones - unless you know of a little shop in Chinatown that will unlock it for $5.

Most cell providers should be able to supply the unlock code or procedure once you are near or at the end of your contract commitment. I know that AT&T just handed over the subsidy unlock code for my Motorola phone when I asked them for it.

The EFF will try to steal anything that is not bolted to the floor. They are distantly related to Wall Street bankers.

primortal said,
What is EFF trying to steal? There not getting any money from this....

Yeah... like Greenpeace.

The rule of thumb is :no money, no foundation, neither a shinny office or a secretary or a Founder will work for free.

I think it's fair that some operators lock handsets to their network as they are sold at a reduced rate.

However locking what apps are installed is plain wrong, and when it comes to protecting the operators prefered business model then surely it's anti-competitive and possibly illegal.

Other countries like France and Singapore outlawed phone lock-ins, and still have the same reduced rate phones. You can't break your contract and keep the phone still, you're committed to pay for it, so you're still effectively locked for the contract term, but have freedom when that expires, or can pay for another SIM at the same time and use that instead if your rich enough to double up.

This has only really been looked into by most countries simply because of the ONE carrier per country for the iPhone issue with the iPhone being in such demand. It really highlighted the ridiculousness and unfairness of the situation.

If anything I feel they have more right to software lock in, especially when it can use their network, but it's shooting themselves in the foot, an open , flexible device is more desirable to buy in the first place.

Wouldn't this increase the cost of phones? I mean, unlocked phones are generally more expensive than locked phones. In some cases it's considerably more expensive. I'm sure most of you have seen those sketchy stores at strip malls that sell unlocked phones. You know, the stores that are generally run by people of oriental descent.

if you want the latest model yes , if you dont need to have the latest model i doubt it will increase the costs , beside there are several marks

About the strip mall stores , well we do have a few here and to be honest they arent run by people of oriental descent and still if they were or not , they are actually legit , so i dont see the problem of those stores

I don't think it would increase the price of phones. You get the special price because you're buying a plan with the phone. Even with an unlocked phone, I'm sure the carriers would still sell plans with phones and they would probably end up the same price. Just look at the fact that you can buy a new phone at any time during your contract, but if you're not extending your contract you have to pay full price.

Hmm we have people suing to end Term fees, now we have a petition to Free phones from software locks.

I think in the near future we will see the end of subsidized phones.

El