Submit a link Features Reviews Podcasts Video Forums More ▾

Obama’s secret attempt to ban cellphone unlocking, while claiming to support it

Derek Khanna of Slate reports that the White House is pushing to keep cellphone unlocking illegal, and making the legal act of jailbreaking a crime punishable by imprisonment.

Last week, WikiLeaks made public a portion of a treaty that the White House has been secretly negotiating with other nations and 600 special interest lobbyists. The draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty, which is on intellectual property, shows that HealthCare.gov isn’t the only tech topic on which the Obama administration has some serious explaining to do.

The leaked treaty draft shows that while the White House was championing restoring free market principles to phones, the U.S. proposed that the TPP lock in the process that allowed the Librarian of Congress to rule this technology as illegal through international law. This would make many potential reforms impossible. But the TPP draft doesn’t stop there. It would ban numerous other technologies that have beneficial uses. In particular, the legislation would ensure that jailbreaking -- which is installing a different operating system on your phone, tablet, or e-reader—is illegal.

This treaty has long been shrouded in unprecedented secrecy. Congressional staff, press and general public weren’t allowed to read it; in many cases, even members of Congress were kept in the dark. Meanwhile, special interests were given full access. Now we know why: The White House didn’t want the public to know what was being negotiated in their name.

Obama’s Secret Attempt to Ban Cellphone Unlocking, While Claiming to Support It

KnowRoaming - good deal for international travelers?

You've no doubt heard the horror stories from people who've brought their smartphones with them to another country and were surprised with a roaming bill for thousands of dollars.

I have recurring dreams of it happening to me. When I travel overseas, I bring along a paperclip to remove my SIM card from my iPhone when I'm on the plane so that when I land in another country I don't get charged AT&T's exorbitant international roaming fees. Call me paranoid, but I have read reports that people get hit with roaming charges even after they turn the roaming setting "off" on their phones. By removing the SIM card (which is easy) I'm ensured that I won't get an unexpected fee.

On my last few trips abroad, I've purchased data SIM cards ahead of time. I've had great experiences with B-Mobile for Japan and HolidayPhone for Italy. I had a terribly frustrating experience with RebelFone (Here's my post about b-mobile and RebelFone).

So I read with interest about a new company called KnowRoaming, which sells a little sticker that you can apply to your phone's existing SIM card. The company says you can save up to 85% off of your voice and data in 220 countries. It sounds cool -- I would never have to buy another third-party Sim card again. But then I got to the bottom of the page and checked out the fees.

Read the rest

How to get out of your AT&T contract early without an early termination fee

This month AT&T started charging a monthly "Mobility Administrative Fee" of $0.61 to mobile customers. If you want to get out of your contract early, you can use this fee increase to cancel the contract without paying an early termination fee.

This fee offers a rare chance to fight back against a corporate giant. You can use the administrative fee as a loophole to break your contract, without having to pay any costly early termination fees.

Even if the monthly fee isn't a big deal to you, upgrading your phone early probably is. By canceling your contract, you can get a new Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One with AT&T or another wireless carrier at the cheaper subsidized pricing.

Nelson Aguilar at Wonder How To describes how to do it