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Open Science: Mobile Device Unlocking Response From White House

This article originally appeared on

As anyone who signed the petition and checks their email now knows, the White House has issues a response to the petition to place the mobile device unlocking exception back on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I just received the following email in response:

date: Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM
subject: Petition Response: It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking
It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking
By R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, & Privacy

Thank you for sharing your views on cell phone unlocking with us through your petition on our We the People platform. Last week the White House brought together experts from across government who work on telecommunications, technology, and copyright policy, and we’re pleased to offer our response.

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.

This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs — even if it isn’t the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.

The White House’s position detailed in this response builds on some critical thinking done by the President’s chief advisory Agency on these matters: the Department of Commerce‘s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). For more context and information on the technical aspects of the issue, you can review the NTIA’s letter to the Library of Congress‘ Register of Copyrights (.pdf), voicing strong support for maintaining the previous exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for cell phone carrier unlocking.

Contrary to the NTIA’s recommendation, the Librarian of Congress ruled that phones purchased after January of this year would no longer be exempted from the DMCA. The law gives the Librarian the authority to establish or eliminate exceptions — and we respect that process. But it is also worth noting the statement the Library of Congress released today on the broader public policy concerns of the issue. Clearly the White House and Library of Congress agree that the DMCA exception process is a rigid and imperfect fit for this telecommunications issue, and we want to ensure this particular challenge for mobile competition is solved.

So where do we go from here?

The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.

We also believe the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with its responsibility for promoting mobile competition and innovation, has an important role to play here. FCC Chairman Genachowski today voiced his concern about mobile phone unlocking (.pdf), and to complement his efforts, NTIA will be formally engaging with the FCC as it addresses this urgent issue.

Finally, we would encourage mobile providers to consider what steps they as businesses can take to ensure that their customers can fully reap the benefits and features they expect when purchasing their devices.

We look forward to continuing to work with Congress, the wireless and mobile phone industries, and most importantly you — the everyday consumers who stand to benefit from this greater flexibility — to ensure our laws keep pace with changing technology, protect the economic competitiveness that has led to such innovation in this space, and offer consumers the flexibility and freedoms they deserve.

Your move, Library of Congress…

Politics, part one.

      Yesterday’s press conference with President Barak Obama sounded like a parent disciplining his children, and with good reason. Congress haven’t actually written and agreed upon a real budget in years, instead patching up with supplementary short term hold-overs. Almost every hot button issue is deadlocked between the two major parties because compromise has become a dirty word. Civil debate and discussion has soured into ideological pissing contests. It’s no surprise the President has responded to this distasteful situation by speaking like an angry parent telling the fighting, bratty siblings to get along.

The Economy, Fiscal Cliff, Debt Ceiling, Monopoly, Scrooge McDuck, FML
      In the immediate, the debt ceiling needs to be raised to pay our already-approved bills and the fiscal cliff needs to be averted. In the only-slightly-less immediate future, a budget needs to be written. Congress should pay Nate Silver a quality sum of money to oversee this. He seems to be the only person who comments on politics who actually knows his maths. The GOP needs to accept that taxes on the wealthy will go up. There’s no way around this.

Sure, statistics isn’t economics, but I’m pretty sure no one in Congress knows arithmetic, so it can’t hurt.

Because No One Anywhere Is Going To Arm Up And Successfully Overthrow The US.
      What’s being proposed is a multi-faceted approach including an assault weapons ban, a high capacity magazine ban, and closing background check loopholes. Of course, there are segments of the population who will resist any firearm restrictions, hiding behind a Libertarian view of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, and arguing the usual points to death. However, before addressing the main arguing points, I say lets flip the debate around.

      Why should someone have the right to possess an assault rifle or high capacity magazine? Assault rifles are not utilitarian weapons (ie. standard rifle, shotgun, handguns) and have no practical civilian uses beyond what can be accomplished with their lesser counterparts.

Fuck yeah ‘Murrica!

      The Second Amendment was written in a time when the people overthrowing a corrupt government by force was actually a feasible thing (which we’d just done ourselves). This is no longer the case. No US civilian insurgency could succeed, nor would we want to affect change in this forceful manner. (The hypocrisy, as we chide Middle Eastern states for overthrowing their leaders every other year, would be overwhelming.) This renders the Second Amendment an outdated and obsolete notion. What was nobly written more than two centuries ago does not need to be propped up and dragged along like a sad, political version of Weekend At Bernie’s. Times change, people change, the world changes, and the tenets of a nation need to evolve with it all to remain relevant.

      Another key arguing point is the fact that, despite regulation or lack thereof, criminals will always be able to obtain these weapons. They won’t register them. To this, I say that these exampled criminals, the standard gang affiliated or independently immersed, will have known open channels to illegally obtain weapons. Some random nutjob like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter wouldn’t have that knowledge and people like the Columbine shooters wouldn’t want to risk raising any flags by going that route when they were so easily obtainable in the ways they obtained them. These proposed measures aren’t aimed at the aforementioned criminals; they have their own supposed solutions in process (gang task forces, DEA, ATF, &c.).

      The last argument I’ll cover here is the comparison of statistic to homicides via baseball bats and knives. These attempt to suggest that it is the person using the tool, not the tool itself. This is inherently false. It is about both the person and the tool. To deny a difference in effectiveness between larger capacity clips and higher powered rifles vs. their lesser counterparts is almost as silly as comparing knives and baseball bats to firearms. You can’t mow down a considerable number of people from a distance with a knife or bat. It’s an illogical argument. Restrictions on the ‘tools’ and increased mental health services with lessened stigmas, as well as a progressive direction in culture, will go a long way toward preventing more tragedies like this.

Iran As An Example And Warning

Persia (Iran) has long been known for its rich, colorful culture and achievements in mathematics and science. Were you not aware of that? Many born after 1980 might not have only been aware of the post-revolution Iran which firmly set the nation in extreme Islam. Here in the United States, we  have enjoyed decades of brilliant technological advancement and socio-political change. Progress in the realm of human rights, while nowhere near perfect, has been made. However, just like Iran, it could slip away.

Rick Santorum, while never actually having a chance at the US Presidency, came much closer than he ever should have. He is representative of the extreme religious movement plaguing social and cultural progress in this nation. He campaigned against homosexual marriage, women’s health rights, stem cell research, the right to higher education, the separation of church and state, and climate change science. Rick Santorum wants the United States of America to be a Christian nation whose laws are religiously founded. It’s not just Santorum, though. There are groups of politicians teetering on the brink of religious extremism. Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, they promote this viewpoint in such a polarized, dramatic way, that people who may be even mildly susceptible become impassioned to their cause.

There is no question that the government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was rife with political corruption. However, the White Revolution of 1962, the onset of the Shah’s government, brought with it a slew of women’s rights along with the Family Protection Law in 1967. Human rights and education grew.  Then, on April Fools Day, 1979, a revolution was completed and Iran became an Islamic Republic. Women’s rights took a very swift and sharp nose dive. Women were ousted from and denied certain positions in government, dress codes began to be implemented, and gender segregation fired up. Violent punishment, in accord with Islamic law, was initiated. The laws of Iran were now based on Shariah Law.

The erosion of human rights parity across the spectrum of gender, lifestyle and ethnicity, the stifling of technological and scientific progress, the impedance of religious doctrine, the disregard for responsible use of resources, and the constant threat of pointless wars based on conflicting fictional ideologies are what we face. The far religious right will bring with it the Christian equivalent of Shariah Law and jihad. Just like Iran, we could slip completely into ignorance and a new dark age would arise.

The Blame Game

By now, everyone has likely heard of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. For those who haven’t, here is a link to some news coverage:

All I’ve been hearing are misdirected blames. There are (as always) people blaming firearm freedoms. One man asked, this morning on NPR, what the NRA was going to do about it. While I don’t support the NRA, what the hell did they have to do with it? InfoWars, in their typical fashion, has a response on the website blaming so-called “death-obsessed culture,” of course followed by insanely idiotic user commentary. Everyone seems to miss the real problem here.

The argument that more efficient weapons increase the kill count is a valid argument, but not enough to legislate firearms even further. He could just as easily have gone in with more loaded weapons instead of relying on one. I don’t blame eating utensils for my being overweight. Just like the argument that fast food has contributed to the US’s horrifying obesity rates may be valid, but it is not strong enough to legislate those either.

It’s all about choices. He made the choice to go in there and do that, like Nathan Hale, that idiot in Norway, the Littleton morons, and all of the others before them. This nutter’s motivations haven’t yet been brought to light, so I won’t even speculate, but undoubtedly mental illness is a factor for him to lack the empathy that would have curbed his choice. "Death-obsessed culture" isn’t even the problem either. Look at the music I listen to. Look at the movies I watch. Am I about to go out and commit an atrocity such as this? Not a chance. I am armed with adequate mental stability and empathy.

Blaming culture and guns only serves to distract from finding a real preventative solution.

A Humorous And Relatively Antagonistic Conversation With A Religious Nut (Part 1)

I have marked my parts of the conversation in bold for easier reading. Last names have been extracted and an unrelated personal portion of the conversation has been stripped from the content (with respect to a third party), but the text is otherwise in original form. I still chuckle when I reread parts. However, as funny as this conversation is, it is also very sad. It is depressing to think that our educational system has failed so miserably that outright falsehoods like these are accepted as truth. It is simultaneously a tad unnerving that this level of brainwashing is so rampant. It is okay to feel a twinge of pity while you giggle.


Parenting for the Samurai

   I enjoy reading Hagakure, The Book of the Samurai… “the hidden leaves.” I was pleased to come across this passage in a reading:


Good Parenting: Setting An Example

   One of the most important aspects of properly raising a child is teaching by example. You can tell your children time and time again what and what not to do. You can explain the why’s and wherefores until your tongue falls out. You can punish, scold, praise and celebrate until your arms fall off. It really makes very little difference by way of teaching a lesson. What reaches your children more successfully and efficiently than anything else is example.

   Toddlers are mimics. They constantly observe us very closely then try to emulate what we do. If we typically grunt when doing a task (such as picking up an item we just dropped accidentally), the child will then begin grunting in the same scenario. Life is new to them and we are old hands at it. They look upon us as the ones who know how to do everything. So, to get a handle on this outside world, they watch us and learn.

   If you want to raise a morally solid, emotionally developed and well adjusted child, you need to be these things yourself. You must strive to be who you want your child to grow up to be. Our children are learning how to live by our example. Let’s make it a good one.

Recommended Reading

Same-Sex Marriage In Vermont

   Through the democratic process, our elected officials, given power by popular vote of the people, have chosen to override Governor Douglas’ veto against the same sex marriage legislation. Those of you who are bound to post endless rants against this vote are welcome to, as they say, move to Cuba or some other non-democratic state. This is how the United States of America decides things.

   To you happy parties now able to marry, who are undoubtedly going to tout the democratic process for your win today, remember that some of you not too long ago spoke against democracy with the anticipation of losing this vote. ‘The majority should never hold sway against the minority.’ However, now that sentiment must be eaten and swallowed, for the majority is holding sway over the minority in the views of marriage. Had you lost, you would curse the word you today praise.

   The decision today is the will of the people.

WCAX coverage:
Rutland Herald coverage:

Three Simple Steps To Being A Good Parent

…or, How not to be a bad example for your children.

   As a parent, I make a lot of decisions throughout my day. Being a parent changes how you make decisions from the ground up. Where once it was okay to think of your own benefit first, it is no longer. A child is 100% dependent on you to both care for them and assist them in their development. Every decision you make, even the ones for yourself, have to include your child in your considerations. That can seem overwhelming, at first. Fear not, for there is an easy way to go about it. Here are three very simple questions to ask yourself before making your final decisions:

1. What will my child think of me down the line?
   Anyone with a teenager can attest to the power of grudges. Teens, in their rebellion, will often look for whatever they can use against their parents to get what they want. The teen years are a rough time of severe change in both their bodies and emotions. Doing one’s best to uphold a positive image in the eyes of one’s children is a big help in this arena.

2. What lessons will my decision teach to my child?
   Children are sponges and they learn far more by example then by spoken lesson. If you tell your child to conduct themselves one way and go against that in your own life, they will learn the latter. Your decisions and actions will be the real lessons they learn growing up. Before making your decision, ask yourself what your child will learn from it. If you wish to teach your child an ethic, moral or any other lesson, live by that lesson yourself.

3. How will this decision affect my child?
   Being the ultimate custodians of our children, our decisions and actions affect them directly. Before making a decision, we need to ask ourselves if the actions and outcome will either benefit, harm, or not effect our children. If the decision has no affect on your child, (ex. Should I eat turkey or ham on my sandwich for lunch?) then it is neutral and you can think only of yourself. If the outcome of your decision will harm your child in anyway, you should choose another route. If the outcome of your decision will benefit your child, you are doing the right thing. This is the most important of the three questions!

   With these three, very simple questions, you have a solid, effective means of decision-making in the way a responsible parent should. Remember: to put your wants over your child’s needs is pure selfishness. It is simply bad parenting to choose your own satisfaction over the happiness and prosperity of your child. With our society facing so many problems, we need the next generations to be as prepared as possible. This all begins at home. Good luck with your own responsible parenting.