Jailbreaking smartphones is now legal, but not for tablets

For years manufacturers and carriers have tried to keep our phones locked down to their specifications. And because of that, a legal process has taken place to decide whether a consumer has the right to unlock/jailbreak their handset. In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which outlaws attempts to get around digital rights management schemes. Because of the exploding growth of technology, the act has become outdated in many senses. Yesterday a bunch of changes were published—making it legal to jailbreak phones, but not tablets.

The Librarian of Congress published a list of changes which will be in force for three years. The new rules are stupid. In short, after 90 days, unlocking of new phones will be forbidden and all tablet mods will still be illegal. Why such a half-assed ruling, you ask? Well, the powers that be “found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets,’ notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate. For example, an e-book reading device might be considered a ‘tablet,’ as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer.”

Now do you see why I called the new rules stupid? Their reasoning doesn’t offer a clear explanation to why tablets are exempt from being unlocked or jailbroken. We all know that today’s tablet is just a bigger version of the phone, as they both carry the same mobile software. On the other hand, these rule changes mean absolutely nothing in the sense that people will still continue to hack hardware they bought.

[Ars Technica; via Gizmodo]


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