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

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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  • Hando567
    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.
    45
  • g00fysmiley
    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
    39
  • anxiousinfusion
    Lobbyists vs hobbyists.

    I still feel like a lot of people will unlock their phones, regardless.
    33
  • Other Comments
  • g00fysmiley
    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
    39
  • phamhlam
    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.
    14
  • Anonymous
    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?
    22