Unlocking Cellphones Becomes Crime In U.S.

As of January 26th, unlocking your cellphone or tablet will become a crime in the U.S. In October of last year, the Librarian of Congress, charged with interpreting the anti-hacking law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), ruled that unlocking cell phones will be illegal. The revised rules state that it is illegal to unlock a smartphone or tablet without the permission of the provider, but put a 90-day window in place so that users could adapt to this new law. That window will expire on January 26th.

The process of unlocking a phone allows users to free their phones from the shackles of cellular carriers. When a phone is unlocked, it allows users to use their devices on different cellular networks as long as the device is capable of working on the desired carrier. For example, a Nexus 4 purchased from T-Mobile is already unlocked, so this device would be eligible to be used on AT&T

Some carriers do sell handsets already unlocked, such as Verizon’s iPhone 5 and LG’s Nexus 4 on T-Mobile. Unlocked phones that are sold through carriers will not be affected by this law, so if you want to legally possess an unlocked phone in the U.S. you’ll have to start buying one of these. Some carriers, such as AT&T, ensure that their handsets may be unlocked once they are out of contract.

What do you think of this interpretation of the DMCA? Will it stop you from unlocking your devices or can Uncle Sam shove it? Let us know your thoughts.

[Via: Ubergizmo, BGR]

  • I would understand it if there were phone rentals, but they are not. You are financing the phone, still considered purchasing it. If you cancel your contract early, the carriers are not requiring that you return the phone, are they? It is unfair. My phone is my property. Why should I not have the right to unlock it? In my family’s case, I need it unlocked for our yearly or bi-yearly visits to Asia. I have a phone and it has the capability of being used on any GSM network, if unlocked. Why pay outrageous roaming fees? When I comeback home, I’m back on my home network again. Again, its not fair and not good business.

  • Krayz

    Laws like these are meant to be broken and will be… if my phone weren’t already unlocked I would unlock it just to spite this. Prepare for the negative backlash from customers.

  • BBalthaser

    I agree with those below. We are a military family who must travel and live overseas. By making this law they are limiting the capacity of communication (at a less cost) for those who work or live overseas but must come to the US for business, work, pleasure. I do remember that not all carriers such as AT&T follow their own rules my husband had an IPHONE that he couldn’t unlock even though it was way past its contract. They refused to unlock it and legally it was wrong of them to do so. This is just another way for them to control the way we can own and utilize items.

  • DoG attack (Denial of Gov’t)

    Rentals or not,unlock them anyways! Spread the word! Hackers unite! Empower yourself and everyone around you!

  • Rules like this are devoutly to be ignored. Unlock, root and jailbreak away!

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