A year ago, the Librarian of Congress — who has the authority to interpret the fine points of the much-derided Digital Millennium Copyright Act, inexplicably reversed his previous rulings regarding the rights of consumers to unlock wireless devices by making it illegal for people to unlock new phones and tablets without permission from their wireless provider. That change went into effect in January, and since then, everyone from consumers to lawmakers to the White House have declared it a huge mistake that needs to be rethought. Today, new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urged the wireless industry to put voluntary standards in place that would at least make it easier for consumers to know when they can unlock their devices. [More]
Sprint will relinquish unlock codes to departing customers in good standing as part of proposed class action settlement.The class was formed last year by California consumers who argued that the locked phones bound them to Sprint by making it more expensive to switch carriers. Sprint claimed that releasing the codes was unnecessary since the service contract clearly informed consumers that phones would only work on Sprint’s network.
On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court refused to review two earlier findings, which killed T-Mobile’s final chance at blocking a lawsuit against its early-termination fees and practice of locking phones. This is the third time T-Mobile has tried to stop the case from proceeding, and both a state trial judge and a state appeals court have already rejected T-Mobile’s claims that its customers were required by the terms of their contracts to submit to binding arbitration.
A class-action lawsuit was filed on October 5th against the unholy duo of Apple and AT&T, charging that they intentionally broke unlocked headsets via the last firmware update, and conspired illegally to monopolize parts of the mobile phone market by preventing consumers from using any services other than those provided by the two companies. The suit charges the two companies, either jointly or separately, with six formal counts, including “alleged violations of the California Business and Profession’s Code, The Cartwright Act, The Sherman Act, The Federal Trade Commission Act, The Communications Act of 1934, and The Telecommunications Act of 1996, as well as rules and policies established by the FCC.”
According to a Slate columnist, not only is it legal, but it’s ethical and fun. (Fun?) “I did just throw down more than $400 for this little toy,” he writes. “I’m no property-rights freak, but that iPhone is now my personal property, and that ought to stand for something.”