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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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  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • plznote
    I don't live in the US, but would it still be illegal to unlock the phone after your contract expires?
    Reply
  • blurr91
    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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • bllue
    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.
    Reply
  • anxiousinfusion
    Lobbyists vs hobbyists.

    I still feel like a lot of people will unlock their phones, regardless.
    Reply
  • unoriginal1
    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?
    Reply
  • sicom
    This is what happens when your government is bought by corporations.
    Reply