Steph Barnes
March 12, 2013 6:30 am

On January 26th, it became illegal to unlock your smartphone.

*ADVISORY

BY DECREE OF THE LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS

IT SHALL HENCEFORCE BE ORDERED THAT AMERICANS SHALL NOT UNLOCK THEIR OWN SMARTPHONES.

PENALTY: In some situations, first time offenders may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for five years, or both. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $1,000,000, imprisonment for up to ten years, or both.*

The rules were revised to state that while it is legal to jailbreak smartphones – it is illegal to jailbreak tablets and illegal to unlock phones without permission from your wireless provider.

So, what is unlocking?

Unlocking is the practice of freeing a mobile device sold by one wireless provider to work on another provider’s network. It became illegal without carrier approval in January when the Librarian of Congress chose not to include it in a list of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemptions, which is updated once every three years.

Don’t worry though, The White House is in favor of letting you legally unlock your cellphone and other mobile devices without your carriers’ approval.

“The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties,” wrote David Edelman, White House Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy, in a response to an online petition calling for the legalization of unlocking. “In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device and aren’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation – you should be able to use it on another network” When the iPhone was first released it was exclusive to AT&T and unlocking was at an all time high. It’s a fairly simple process and if you’re paying for your device, why shouldn’t you be able to do with it what you please?

Do you think unlocking cellphones should be legal?

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