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Verizon Android

Is Verizon Breaking FCC Regulations With Locked Bootloaders? 143

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the but-they-might-uninstall-nsa.apk dept.
First time accepted submitter PcItalian writes with an excerpt from an interesting editorial on XDA Developers: "The open access provision requires Verizon to 'not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee's C Block network.' It goes on to say, 'The potential for excessive bandwidth demand alone shall not constitute grounds for denying, limiting or restricting access to the network.' Verizon bought Block C and tried to have the provisions removed. They failed. ... That means if a device uses the Block C frequencies, Verizon cannot insist what apps or firmware it runs. ... So the question is, do any devices use Block C frequencies? Yes. Some are called Hotspots. Others are called the HTC Thunderbolt... [Hotspots] comply with FCC regulations as far as I'm aware. The HTC Thunderbolt, on the other hand, does not. In the list of rules and exceptions for the Block C license, it says this: 'Handset locking prohibited. No licensee may disable features on handsets it provides to customers, to the extent such features are compliant with the licensee's standards pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section'...'"
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Is Verizon Breaking FCC Regulations With Locked Bootloaders?

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  • So what now? It's not like we can show this to Verizon and go "HAH! SEE! TOLDJA SO!" and expect them to unlock anything. If anything they've known about this for a very long time.
    • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:09PM (#37826670)

      No... you go to the FCC and let them know, and they fine Verizon... and then Verizon raises its rates to cover the losses and then.... fuck.

      • The cycle continues (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:22PM (#37826768)

        Normally I dont agree with that kind of defeatism, but Verizon keeps doing this at every turn: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/10/solved-verizon-to-pay-25-million-fine-over-mystery-fees.ars [arstechnica.com]. They are just up to the same old unethical behavior as before. Add uninstallable bloatware nagging you to buy things or use in app billing, they are really biting the hand that feeds them. Android phones are their bread and butter, making them cash hand over fist. Add insane data charges and it's really obvious how badly distorted the wireless market is. The ironic part? Google is who bid the c-block up to the open-access provision level. Forcing the winner to accept open access.

        • by Lehk228 (705449) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:39PM (#37826918) Journal
          the way to stop this kind of BS is to make as a statutory penalty when a company is found violating any Law or FCC or FTC rule all customers have the option to cancel their contract with no fee or requirement to return a handset.
          • that's not a bad idea.

            my idea is to have the CEOs of such companies in violation wear a chicken suit in public for 30 days. (the other exec staff don't have to go as chickens but they do have to dress up as some kind of fowl.)

            that would bring corporate abuse down to zero faster than you can say 'kernel [sic] sanders'.

            or, is that just a crock pot idea?

            • by Adriax (746043)

              Never devise punishments on an empty stomach.

              • by msauve (701917)
                "Never devise punishments on an empty stomach."

                Huh? Chicken tastes like.....chicken.
            • Pay me what the CEOs are making, and I'll wear a chicken suit for 30 days. These fuckers can take a little humiliation, it doesn't change their bottom line.

              These fuckers need to be hit where it hurts the most; the wallet. And I'm not talking about the companies wallet, I mean the HMFIC's personal bank accounts.

              Also, convict a company of wrong doing? Did the HMFIC know about it? Since the HMFIC represents the company and the company is a 'person' make the company do the prison time, is the form of the HMF

              • by tibman (623933)

                highest mother fucker in charge?

              • by meerling (1487879)
                I like the idea of the head honchos at the company going to jail for the crimes they oversee, as well as elimination of those "golden parachutes".
                But I tend to get rather vindictive towards those that act with impunity simply because they think they can get away with it.
            • by meerling (1487879)
              Define public... If you don't do that sufficiently, they'll find a way to worm out of it.
            • by Bucky24 (1943328)
              Sounds like cruel and unusual punishment (well, unusual punishment anyway). Personally I think it's a lovely idea, but I don't think something like that is legal...
          • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:48PM (#37827380)

            No, the way to fix this is to seize all profits made as a result of the violation, and then add a fine on top of that.

            In this case, it would be every HTC Thunderbolt Verizon sold (or rather, the profit made therein).

            Fines will just be considered a business cost until they actually hurt. $100,000 isn't shit when you've sold $10,000,000* worth of phones in a month.

            * Info from the Department of Pulling Numbers from my Ass for the Purpose of an Analogy.

            • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday October 24, 2011 @11:01PM (#37827806) Journal

              No, the way to fix this is to seize all profits made as a result of the violation, and then add a fine on top of that.

              The 'fine' should be loss of the license. They appear to have broken the license deliberately to make more money so they should have to repay the money and then lose the license for having proven themselves untrustworthy to have it. This would certainly be disruptive to customers but if governments behaved this way you'd soon see companies taking their responsibilities a lot more seriously and there there would be less need for such forceful action.

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              That would be wonderful but i just don't see it happening, the 1% like the guys on top of Verizon thanks to Citizens United can just pay off any lawmakers and get immunity. I mean when they didn't bust intel who frankly made MSFT's actions that got them busted look like choirboys? I mean if rigging the most used compiler to send any chip they don't approve of (including their own P3 to make the P4 look like a decent product) through the ringer by forcing all math to use x87 mode (which has been depreciated

              • by Andy Dodd (701)

                Huh? How would Intel pull something like that with GCC - next to impossible.

                Also the stated "crippling" you talk about would make the P4 look significantly WORSE than the P3, not better. The P4 is the first chip in which x87 instructions got crippled in favor of using SSE. (In the P4, the recommended method for floating point was SSE - even for non-SIMD work.)

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  Actually you need to look up the way they rigged their compiler friend. if you ran a program through say GCC and then ran it on both a late model P3 and an early P4? The P3 would WIN by about 30%. If you ran the exact same code through the Intel compiler after I believe it was Apr of 2003? Then the P4 would win by as much as 45%.

                  The reason that was is their purposely look for a "Genuine" flag and if it isn't found drop the code through an unoptimized x87 routine that frankly is like something from 1993. It

            • Why not a RICO prosecution?

              It's clearly a conspiracy on the part of executives to break the law and obtain illegal profits.

              Let's seize all the personal assets of these executives, fine them a few million dollars personally and throw them in jail.

              When "aggressive billing practices" starts becoming a significant risk of loss of personal fortunes and extensive jail time, then you'll see greater caution.

            • > Info from the Department of Pulling Numbers from my Ass for the Purpose of an Analogy.

              I bow to you, sir. Obviously, you have escaped beheading at the king's order by teaching the donkey to talk. And even done extra credit by teaching it statistics and numerical analysis.

      • by VJmes (2449518)
        In an ideal capitalistic market, Verizon would then lose business from the higher pricing, their competition would get a leg-up. The alternative being that they do not pass this cost onto the consumer and remain at a competitive price-point.

        In this bullshit version of real-world capitalism, Verizon increases the price and then the competition does as well, simply because they can get away with it. The alternative is that very few people can move carrier because of prohibitive consumer contracts, by the t
        • by hedwards (940851)

          The issue here isn't capitalism, it's failing to heed the warnings of Adam Smith, if you don't have sufficient regulation, this is exactly the kind of bitch slap you get from the invisible hand.

          • Given the prices we paid in the fully-regulated days before the Ma Bell breakup, I'm not sure that regulation would do much to lower prices. Making all companies operate on the same spectrum would help, though.
            • by j-beda (85386)

              Given the prices we paid in the fully-regulated days before the Ma Bell breakup, I'm not sure that regulation would do much to lower prices. Making all companies operate on the same spectrum would help, though.

              I recall some pretty high per-minute long distance charges back in the 1970s that's for sure.

              However I recall a bit of info from Consumer Reports back in the late 1990s that was interesting. It was a graph of the cost of phone service and airline travel and one some other industry I cannot recall, plotted against time. For each industry, there was a fairly linear drop in pricing up until the date when the industry was "deregulated", and at that date, there was a deflection point followed by a new linear dec

              • The interesting thing was that the rate of price decrease before the deregulation date was greater than after deregulation.

                I would suggest, though of course I can't prove, that the deregulation allowed all sorts of inefficiencies to be wrung out of the system at once. Once all the low-hanging fruit are gone, though, it's a lot harder to keep increasing efficiency at the same rate forever.

                • by j-beda (85386)

                  The interesting thing was that the rate of price decrease before the deregulation date was greater than after deregulation.

                  I would suggest, though of course I can't prove, that the deregulation allowed all sorts of inefficiencies to be wrung out of the system at once. Once all the low-hanging fruit are gone, though, it's a lot harder to keep increasing efficiency at the same rate forever.

                  Sure, that would be a good story if there was a fast drop at deregulation followed at some later time by a slower drop - but these graphs did not show that. The graphs showed relatively steep drops before dereg, and shallower ones after, with no particular big dips or drops in the time around deregulation.

                  Now my memory of a graph in a consumer mag from more than a decade ago is not particularly convincing - it would be nice if we could find some more reliable data.

          • if you don't have sufficient regulation...

            I think the problem is not so much insufficient regulation so much as ineffectual regulation. If the consequence of violating the regulations is a 'tut, tut' and (possibly) confiscating their pocket change is it any wonder that they flout the rules?

          • by DarkOx (621550)

            No the issue here is as usual to much regulation, and overly centralized regulation rather than two little. The regulation has created the entry barriers and made the market to little to function properly. Spectrum allocation should be in that hands of state and local municipalities, NOT the federal government.

            Downside its likely nation wide cellular service with a single handset would be difficult, up side the customer would have a much more competitive market and lower costs for service around their hom

            • by hedwards (940851)

              That's bullshit, the real barrier to entry is that it's extremely expensive to put up your own network and there's scarcity issue with spectrum. Without FCC regulation the barriers to entry would be even more significant as you'd not only have to build the infrastructure, but you'd also have a race to install the most powerful equipment possible to blast over everybody elses equipment.

              Like I said, this is the kind of bitch slap you get when there's insufficient regulation.

      • More like you can tell the FCC and then they might get around to eventually filing a official complain with Verizon and years pass and nothing comes of it.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        With continued abuse, they are in violation of agreement and they lose the right to use Block C frequencies. Would anyone in the FCC stand to keep their job after resorting to such a response to repeated abuse? After all, there's abuse by mistake and there's wilful abuse. After being informed of the problem by the FCC, they are responsible not only to pay any fines, but also for correcting the problem. Failure to correct the problem and to continue the abuse then becomes wilful. They paid a lot of money

    • by Baloroth (2370816)
      Class action, maybe? Or FCC fines, that'd probably more effective.
      • Nah, they'd probably just pay the fines and go about business as usual. It's not like the FCC would do anything about it.
        • by robot256 (1635039)

          Nah, they'd probably just pay the fines and go about business as usual. It's not like the FCC would do anything about it.

          It might get somewhere if somebody in Congress notices it and runs out of things to complain about while trying to not fix the economy.

      • Class action, maybe?

        Mandatory arbitration clause.

        Or FCC fines, that'd probably more effective.

        They'd just pay the fines and pass on the cost to the consumer, or donate to a few Congressional campaigns to get the oversight committees to yell at the FCC if the fines were actually relative to the resources Verizon has. It'd be far more effective for the FCC to go to court to get an injunction, but that kind of thing would just get Verizon to donate to a few Congressional campaigns....

        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          Mandatory arbitration clauses might not stick up in court. Regardless, come to think of it class action probably wouldn't be appropriate anyways (they haven't harmed the consumer, they violated FCC regulations.)

          Also, fines might have been the wrong word. What I meant was the FCC can tell Verizon "stop using Block C or stop locking down bootloaders." Verizon wouldn't like doing the first (although they wouldn't like the second, either).

          The fines are just icing on the cake, although I agree they'll probably

          • by powerlord (28156)

            Regardless, come to think of it class action probably wouldn't be appropriate anyways (they haven't harmed the consumer, they violated FCC regulations.)

            Class action on behalf of the American people?

            Since government doesn't seem to be able/willing to hold corporate interests accountable to itself, is there any way for the people at large to force the issue?

    • Re:Great (Score:4, Informative)

      by mariasama16 (1895136) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:18PM (#37826740)
      There was a lawsuit filed against Verizon specifically because of this several months ago, though that lawsuit was more focused on tethering rather than locked bootloaders. Source: http://www.droid-life.com/2011/06/06/tethering-complaint-filed-with-fcc-by-free-press-against-verizon/ [droid-life.com]
  • Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JRowe47 (2459214) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:08PM (#37826650)

    Like Verizon would let a silly little thing like laws get in their way...

    • Or like the FCC would let a silly little thing like laws get in their way. We shall see if they have any spine.
    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>Like Verizon would let a silly little thing like laws get in their way...

      I'd donate money to anyone suing them to stop them from doing this sort of shit.

      I don't want to look at "Need for Speed" or "Madden" or a dozen other trial apps that I can't fucking remove every time I pull up my applications list on my phone.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I will revert to smoke signals before I use their "services" ever again.

    And I speak from experience, having been abused by them.

    • by msauve (701917)
      ...and ATT/Sprint/T-Mobile are better.....how?
      • And this children, is known as the "tu quoque" fallacy. See also "...and the Democrats/Republicans/Invading Alien Armada are better ... how?" It is a logical fallacy employed by those who have nothing meaningful to say in making their point, so they just point fingers in the other direction as if it were a relevant response to the previous speaker. Many of them actually believe this passes for logical argument.

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:25PM (#37826796) Homepage

    Verizon: we keep working you like a whore.

    • by MiniMaul (267339) on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:26PM (#37827252)

      Verizon: we keep working you like a whore.

      or the newer slogan: can you feel me now?

  • I have the HTC Thunderbolt, unlocked running BAMF. According to the verizon rep, the bootloader lockdown was at the request of HTC. Additionally, the warranty is handled by the manufacturer, and would be void by them, not verizon. He told me that I could return the phone, and verizon only does some cursory testing to see if it turns on, functions, etc. The fact it was rooted wouldn't be detected until handed to HTC.
    Now this is all assuming Verizon isn't lying to me. It could very well be all false. But it
    • It is locked by HTC at Verizon's request. It is also denied warranty by HTC at Verizon's request. So yes, technically it is "HTC", but only insofar as they were told "do this or we won't take the phone at all".
    • Thats one hell of an end run around the requirement for the spectrum. They are still knowingly selling a non compliant phone would seem reasonable they would need to stop selling defective phones and replace the ones they sold.

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      Motorola just claimed with the new 'RAZR' that it was specifically Verizon that is causing the bootloader to be locked, on Verizon's version of the phone.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        Moto is just trying to find an excuse...

        They want people to blame someone other than them, when it is CLEARLY *their* fault.

        Just look at it this way:
        Samsung - no locked bootloaders on any carrier (The Tab 10.1 is semi-locked, but that's even the wifi-only versions - and it's pretty light locking.)
        HTC - Heavy bootloader locking only recently, and across all carriers. The Thunderbolt is just a bit higher profile, as it was the first one.
        Motorola - All locked, all the time, with very rare exceptions, on all c

        • Samsung - no locked bootloaders on any carrier
          HTC - Heavy bootloader locking only recently, and across all carriers. The Thunderbolt is just a bit higher profile, as it was the first one.
          Motorola - All locked, all the time, with very rare exceptions, on all carriers

          Wait what? Having a locked (but exploitable) bootloader is a lot different than what Motorola does. If you load an unsigned rom you will brick your phone.

  • by chaboud (231590) on Monday October 24, 2011 @10:30PM (#37827636) Homepage Journal

    Non-compliance by Verizon is cause for the FCC's termination of Verizon's licenses of C-Block bands. At that point, the FCC should reclaim the licenses and re-auction them to parties who would know that they can sub-lease them to a Verizon that they have by the balls.

    The move here is to petition the executive branch to actually do its fucking job, which may mean firing the entire Genachowski FCC and starting over.

    Installing a new OS on my Windows machine doesn't void the warranty, and neither should installing a new build of Android on an Android device. There should be a golden bootloader that is locked that then allows the installation of any operating system software. Then you can make a relatively unbrickable device that gives people complete choice. TPM for the DRM dicks if you really think you have to, bud I'd rather that we, as a people, decide to stop stabbing ourselves in the face.

    Verizon shouldn't be allowed any end-runs, nor should, frankly, anyone else. So the FCC didn't man up and actually give us network and device neutrality that makes sense. That's not the end of the world if they actually enforce C-Block restrictions effectively.

  • and this is not the first time the question has been raised -- see also: potential future 4G iPhone (which will be very interesting)

    With regards to the Thunderbolt, however, the bootloader is easily unlocked so it doesn't seem to be the best case to get upset about.

  • The requirement doesn't mean they have to hook up only unlocked phones. Just like the requirement decades ago wasn't that AT&T stop renting hardwired phones. The requirement is that if I buy any random device capable of talking on their network, they must allow me to use it on their network... even if that device does things with their network they'd rather it not.

    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      You wouldn't happen to have a list of C-Band devices would you?

      • by Spazmania (174582)

        I do not, but I would venture to guess that most devices sold by Verizon at their stores can be purchased as unlocked phones ready to be hooked up to a carrier via other channels.

  • Block C should never have been sold. They should have charged for permission to build devices that communicate over 700hz and left the connectivity and use up to the public. Allowing ONE company to control a frequency is completely unacceptable!

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