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The White House has thrown its support behind legalizing cell phone unlocking after a We The People petition achieved the 100,000 signature requirement. The practice of unlocking cellular devices was banned earlier this year after the Library of Congress ruled that it violates the DMCA.
White House Senior Advisor R. David Edelman:
The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.
Sina Khanifar, the person who kicked off the petition:
This is a big victory for consumers, and I'm glad to have played a part in it. A lot of people reacted skeptically when I originally started the petition, with lots of comments to the effect of 'petitions don't do anything.' The optimist in me is really glad to have proved them wrong. The White House just showed that they really do listen, and that they're willing to take action.
Before the PlayStation 4 is released, it looks like Sony are cashing in their bottles and cans to raise some money - the Japanese company have just announced the sale of their 13% stake in Japanese mobile gaming company DeNA. Nomura Securities are the recipients of the sale, estimated to be 40.9 billion yen, or approximately $440 million. The announcement from Sony has said:
Sony is transforming its business portfolio and reorganizing its assets in an effort to strengthen its corporate structure. This sale is made as a part of that initiative.
It's a strange move, as DeNA are one of the world's largest mobile social games companies, with over 40 million users in Japan alone. With Sony wanting to push the PS4 in a more social direction, and with Sony being a Japanese company who are loyal to their own people, why the sale of shares in a top mobile social games company, now?
Anonymous are constantly getting into the news, with their latest efforts trying to show the world that Bank of America are spying on their customers. With the Bank of America being a, well, bank, this is alarming news. But in the world we live in now, not so much.
The hacking collective reportedly took 14GB of information that belongs to Bank of America, Thomas Reuters, ClearForest, Bloomberg, and TEKSystems. The information taken reportedly has the spying habits of the BoA and other corporations, with spools of data on hundreds of thousands of employees and executives. Anonymous are trying to come out as the good guy here, saying that the information collected is interesting for numerous reasons.
Anonymous push the fact that the data was easy to obtain, with the hackers not requiring any brute force as the server they hacked into was easy to access. The data was reportedly sitting on a ClearForest server in Tel Aviv, with the server being so badly misconfigured that the hackers said it was like an open door, where anyone could've entered. Anonymous also state the most of the information was badly researched and that large parts of it might be incorrect.
LTE is only continuing to expand its reach, with South Korean electronics giant, LG, announcing that they've sold 10 million LTE-capable smartphones worldwide. This number is good, but the company haven't broken the numbers down, so we don't know if most of those sales were in South Korea, or if most were somewhere else.
The 10 million number isn't too strong, as LTE is relatively new to some countries - and in a number of countries, LTE hasn't even rolled out yet. LG are committed to 4G LTE, where we saw them push LTE-capable devices such as their F-Series at Mobile World Congress last week.
Apple vs Samsung patent war gets interesting, Samsung damages cut by $450 million with a new trial on order
There would've been smiles on the faces of corporate ladder of Apple when they were originally victorious with their patent lawsuit against Samsung but now the fun is dissolving. Judge Lucy Koh has ordered that the $1.05 billion awarded to Apple six months ago get cut by a hefty $450,514,650. Not chump change by standards.
There are now some questions that would like to be asked about Samsung's per-product damages to 14 of their devices. Judge Koh has now said there's enough going on to require a new trial. This could go two ways, with Samsung proving victorious and getting their damages cut, or removed - the flip side is that Apple may well lose the $450 million, but if victorious for a second time, could be awarded much more on top of their original $1.05 billion.
Interesting times once more, for both companies and consumers.
A new rumor has popped up saying that T-Mobile will end its phone contracts sometime this month. T-Mobile has already announced that they would be moving away from phone subsidies and plans, but a firm date for when the transition would be complete was never given by the company.
According to the rumor, T-Mobile will "kick their uncarrier efforts off on March 24." The rumor also says that we can expect an announcement before that date, possibly as early as March 4. You should expect no more contracts for T-Mobile. Those currently on contracts will remain on them until they expire or the user upgrades to a new device.
Early termination fees will be no more as there are no longer any contracts. T-Mobile should be instituting an equipment installment plan, such as $30 per month, so that devices will be no more than $99 initially.
In what can only be described as a weird turn of events, the New Zealand High Court has overturned a previous ruling that granted Kim Dotcom's legal team full access to all the evidence against their client before his extradition hearing later this year.
The initial ruling came from Judge David Harvey, who had to step down earlier this year, after making impartial comments relating to the case. This lead to the prosecution filing an appeal which was granted this morning. The new ruling was that since this was an extradition trial, and not a criminal trial, it did not merit the same considerations with regards to evidence.
Dotcom's team plans on taking its case to the New Zealand Supreme Court in an effort to settle this matter once and for all. The team is seeking to see all the evidence in the case in order to judge if any illegal measures were taken by the US and New Zealand governments in Dotcom's arrest. The team says that illegal warrants as well as illegal surveillance was carried out for months beforehand.
Earlier this year, the Library of Congress made it illegal to unlock cell phones. Previously, this had been specifically exempted from Digital Millennium Copyright Act, much like the specific exemption for jailbreaking smartphones. Interestingly enough, it was decided that jailbreaking tablets is illegal.
According to TechCrunch, who spoke to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC will be investigating the matter of smartphone unlocking because the "ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns." He added, "It's something that we will look at it at the FCC to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones."
Obviously, most consumers believe that they should be able to unlock their devices, though the carriers have their own arguments about why unlocking should be illegal. They subsidize the purchase of the phone so that it is cheaper to start with, but they earn back the money over the life of the contract. This is also the reason they have early termination fees.
What do you think about the legality of unlocking phones?
In an interesting move, Samsung has hired the UK judge who forced Apple to issue a public apology to the firm. Samsung has brought the judge onto their legal team to help them fight claims of infringement levied by Ericsson. Clearly this could end up being a conflict of interest, though it is apparently not illegal.
Sir Robin Jacob is reportedly not working on any projects that relate to Apple. If judges continue to be hired by companies they ruled in favor of, some legislation will have to be passed as this has the potential to create some serious conflicts of interest. What do you think? Should it be illegal already?
Don't go expecting anymore mind blowing phones out of HTC this year as they have confirmed that the One will be their only flagship device to be released this year. "We just said, let's just create one flagship device this year," Phil Roberson said. "This is The One."
HTC's One flagship device is quite a good looking device and comes with specs that also satisfy. We'll see if this single flagship model will work for HTC. However, this doesn't preclude HTC from releasing other devices. It just means that they won't be in the One brand and they shouldn't have higher specs or prices than the HTC One.