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Unlocking Cell Phones in U.S. to Become Illegal January 26

By - Source: TechNewsDaily | B 71 comments

Librarian of Congress's 90-day window ends on Saturday.

Unlocking cell phones in the United States will become illegal on January 26 due to the expiry of a 90-day window that deemed the practice legal.

During the October of 2012, the Librarian of Congress, which decides the exemptions to the anti-hacking law dubbed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), ruled that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be deemed legal in America.

However, it approved a 90-day window that allowed consumers to purchase a phone and unlock it without any legal repercussions. The window, though, comes to an end on January 26.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) questions DMCA's right to determine who can unlock a phone. EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz said: "Arguably, locking phone users into one carrier is not at all what the DMCA was meant to do. It's up to the courts to decide."

Unlocking a phone (not to be confused from jailbreaking -- a method to run additional software and instill modified code -- which remains legal) allows it to function on more than one carrier.

While the deadline will make it illegal to unlock cell phones in the U.S., carriers such as Verizon offer devices such as the iPhone 5 as an unlocked smartphone, while AT&T will unlock a handset when its contract has expired.

 

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  • 45 Hide
    Hando567 , January 25, 2013 6:11 PM
    Yay for the corporations running our government! This is going to help NO ONE except the carriers, who are ripping us off already with their ridiculous data charges. I love my country but hate my government. Actually that is a lie, I hate my country too because it is full of morons who let this shit go. Before anyone says anything, yes, I did actually call my congressman, not that that will do anything since I don't have a few million to give them like big corporations do.

    I think its about time the US does away with corporate lobbying. It needs to be illegal for a corporation, or a representative of corporations to give money to the gov't. And any politician who violates this needs to be immediately fined and removed from their position.
  • 39 Hide
    g00fysmiley , January 25, 2013 6:02 PM
    if you are buying your phone... then why can't you do what you want with it assumign you care not committig a crime with it? .... pointless legislation is pointless
  • 33 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , January 25, 2013 6:17 PM
    Lobbyists vs hobbyists.

    I still feel like a lot of people will unlock their phones, regardless.
Other Comments
  • 39 Hide
    g00fysmiley , January 25, 2013 6:02 PM
    if you are buying your phone... then why can't you do what you want with it assumign you care not committig a crime with it? .... pointless legislation is pointless
  • 14 Hide
    phamhlam , January 25, 2013 6:07 PM
    Subsidize phones are dumb anyways. Carriers locking your phone is also dumb. You are still in a 2 year contract so why does it matter to them? Damn lobbyist. Anyways, there is always the out of stock nexus 4 and the unlock iPhone 5 and HTC 8X on Verizon.
  • 22 Hide
    stuart72 , January 25, 2013 6:07 PM
    what if I bring my unlocked cell phone into the US, or purchase an unlocked cell phone from abroad while in the US, or walk across the border into Mexico / Canada / take a fishing boat out of US territorial waters, unlock the phone, and then walk / row back?
  • 5 Hide
    plznote , January 25, 2013 6:07 PM
    I don't live in the US, but would it still be illegal to unlock the phone after your contract expires?
  • 10 Hide
    blurr91 , January 25, 2013 6:07 PM
    Government is all about control. Government doesn't do anything to benefit the people. It seeks to control as much as possible in the name of the people's benefit. Just think about it the next time the government does anything you disagree with...or even agree with... It will all make sense.
  • 45 Hide
    Hando567 , January 25, 2013 6:11 PM
    Yay for the corporations running our government! This is going to help NO ONE except the carriers, who are ripping us off already with their ridiculous data charges. I love my country but hate my government. Actually that is a lie, I hate my country too because it is full of morons who let this shit go. Before anyone says anything, yes, I did actually call my congressman, not that that will do anything since I don't have a few million to give them like big corporations do.

    I think its about time the US does away with corporate lobbying. It needs to be illegal for a corporation, or a representative of corporations to give money to the gov't. And any politician who violates this needs to be immediately fined and removed from their position.
  • 7 Hide
    bllue , January 25, 2013 6:15 PM
    blurr91Government is all about control. Government doesn't do anything to benefit the people. It seeks to control as much as possible in the name of the people's benefit. Just think about it the next time the government does anything you disagree with...or even agree with... It will all make sense.

    Don't forget the corporations since they're the ones actually orchestrating all this; Verizon, at&t, Apple, Samsung, Sprint, etc. The carriers want to continue overcharging you and like the manufacturers, they want you to keep "upgrading" your phone and keep you from using your old phone with carriers that offer a cheaper alternative.
  • 33 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , January 25, 2013 6:17 PM
    Lobbyists vs hobbyists.

    I still feel like a lot of people will unlock their phones, regardless.
  • -2 Hide
    unoriginal1 , January 25, 2013 6:19 PM
    phamhlamSubsidize phones are dumb anyways. Carriers locking your phone is also dumb. You are still in a 2 year contract so why does it matter to them? Damn lobbyist. Anyways, there is always the out of stock nexus 4 and the unlock iPhone 5 and HTC 8X on Verizon.

    I worked in the cell phone industry for a few years.
    This is why. Phone cost at total retail value. $800. Phone cost at 2 year contract value. $199. Cost of Early Termination Fee of contract. $150 (depends on phone now adays). So whats stopping someone from buying the phone 2 year contract, then ending the contract and going to a different carrier. (not being able to unlock it ;)  ).

    So as you can see they do it so they don't lose money. There was a HUGE HUGE inflation of people that would buy iphones (when it was locked to AT&T only) End their contract and sell the phones jailbreak the phones and sell them on ebay for a huge profit.

    On the other hand. Where there's push, there's pull. They do abuse this system and after a certain period i think your phone should be allowed to be unlocked. What i don't understand about this article is it says it'll be "legal" within 90 day time frame.. How the hell are they going to be able to tell?
  • 18 Hide
    sicom , January 25, 2013 6:21 PM
    This is what happens when your government is bought by corporations.
  • 10 Hide
    neon neophyte , January 25, 2013 6:26 PM
    land of the free
  • 8 Hide
    bak0n , January 25, 2013 6:29 PM
    g00fysmileyif you are buying your phone... then why can't you do what you want with it assumign you care not committig a crime with it? .... pointless legislation is pointless

    Only thing I can think of is:

    1. You don't usually have the phone "paid for" until the end of your contract period.

    or

    2. The mobile companies slipped the government $$$.
  • 2 Hide
    carbon12 , January 25, 2013 6:32 PM
    stuart72what if I bring my unlocked cell phone into the US, or purchase an unlocked cell phone from abroad while in the US, or walk across the border into Mexico / Canada / take a fishing boat out of US territorial waters, unlock the phone, and then walk / row back?


    Reading comprehension fail... o_O

    It is not illegal to purchase or be in possession of an unlocked handset... it is illegal to engage in the process of unlocking the handset.
  • 7 Hide
    hapkido , January 25, 2013 6:33 PM
    Quote:
    carriers such as Verizon offer devices such as the iPhone 5 as an unlocked smartphone


    You just couldn't resist, could you?
  • 8 Hide
    spartanmk2 , January 25, 2013 6:38 PM
    I should be able to buy any phone and use it with any carrier service, plan and simple. If it means unlocking a phone to do so so be it.

    /insert picture of Linus giving them the finger
  • 1 Hide
    unoriginal1 , January 25, 2013 6:40 PM
    spartanmk2I should be able to buy any phone and use it with any carrier service, plan and simple. If it means unlocking a phone to do so so be it./insert picture of Linus giving them the finger

    Then you can pay full price for said phone. Enjoy spending close to a grand for each new release.
  • 16 Hide
    omnimodis78 , January 25, 2013 6:51 PM
    What's next? Overclocking a CPU or GPU will also become illegal?
  • 8 Hide
    skit75 , January 25, 2013 6:55 PM
    unoriginal1Then you can pay full price for said phone. Enjoy spending close to a grand for each new release.


    When you consider the data plan they force upon you with a high end subsidized smart phone, the up front cost on an unlocked one usually saves you money over the life of that contract, still. There is no loyalty. T-mobile let me leave for another carrier after 7 years of service without putting up much of a fight.
  • 4 Hide
    unoriginal1 , January 25, 2013 7:02 PM
    Quote:
    When you consider the data plan they force upon you with a high end subsidized smart phone, the up front cost on an unlocked one usually saves you money over the life of that contract, still. There is no loyalty. T-mobile let me leave for another carrier after 7 years of service without putting up much of a fight.

    Agreed. Not sticking up for the cell phone companies. They are expensive. And I was one of those A$$**** at one point in time who "let" customers walk. (we actually had a rating system) It depended on how much the consumer spent. Along with costs of providing services in that area, whether it was contracts with other cell companies to feed off their towers, Tower repair / upgrade costs. Etc Etc Etc. For instance. Someone in Death valley With a population of 1 would have a 1 star rating. We would Literally "try" to let them go. Versus someone maybe in San Diego who has unlimited everything is a 5 Star rating. We'd do just about everything to keep that person.

    Just trying to challenge people to think about why would they do such a thing (not unlocking). Versus the common and typically wrong jump to conclusions of cell phone companies and gov are working together to screw over and take money from the common man :p .

    Guess bottom line. cell companies are a business. Their goal is to make money.
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