The legality of certain phone modifications in the United States, particularly those that allow phones to be used on wireless carriers for which they weren't originally intended, is currently on a congressional see-saw. Every three years, the Librarian of Congress has to approve or extend an exemption of the infamous Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to allow or deny consumers the right to unlock (read: carrier unlock, and in some cases rooting/jailbreaking, but not unlocking bootloaders) their phones by circumventing digital rights management.
Two days ago, the White House announced its support for carrier unlocking handsets. The administration promised an FCC/NTIA investigation as well as a willingness to "work with Congress" on legislation to fix the problem. So, we can probably count on the President's support of the new Wireless Device Independence Act, introduced last night by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill, which is only three pages long, has a simple goal: amend the DMCA such that it explicitly allows the unlocking of cell phones, obviating the need for a tri-yearly exemption.
Who doesn't love a good deal? Today, Amazon and Wirefly are offering another one today to potential or current Verizon customers: a $40 off your bill if you buy or upgrade to a Verizon 4G phone this week. New customers as well as old will get the $40 credit on their next bill, which is a pretty significant chunk of your bill.
The deal will be going on from now until midnight on Thursday, June 14th, so if you were planning on upgrading, now would be a good time to do it.
Congress is a lot like a slot machine - once in a while, something good comes out. A new bill introduced by Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts would require cellular carriers in the US to disclose to end users upon purchase of a mobile device any tracking software present on said device, or any such software that might be installed at a later date by the carrier, manufacturer, or OS provider (that would be Google for Android).
4G. The acronym is probably the most abused term in tech industry since "HD." And if you spend as much time reading up on mobile phone news as us (we hope you don't, that's what we're for!), you probably have come to the same conclusion: it's almost without meaning, constantly misrepresented, and defined on a completely subjective basis. We don't like any of this.
Neither do some of the members of congress, apparently.
If you've watched or read any of the major American news outlets today, you might have heard a solid 15 second mention about a little piece of legislation known as the America Invents Act. You probably heard that it brings the most sweeping changes to American patent law in the last half-century, and that it should ease the burden of patent filing for both inventors and the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).