Unlocking Your Cell Phone Will Be Illegal in the U.S., Starting Tomorrow

Posted in Apple News, iPhone on 25/01/2013 by J. Glenn Künzler


Remember that iPhone you purchased for hundreds of dollars? It’s your legal property to do with as you wish, right? Wrong. Thanks to a new ruling by The Librarian of Congress, unlocking your smartphone will become illegal in the U.S. starting tomorrow, January 26, 2013.

iPhone Unlocked

TechNewsDaily reports:

The clock to unlock a new mobile phone is running out.

In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed. But the librarian provided a 90-day window during which people could still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on January 26.

The ruling stems from a set of restrictions determined in October of last year, which states that performing certain types of involving a mobile violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – the same act that once held jailbreaking to be illegal (which thankfully didn’t stick). A 90-day window was put into effect, during which consumers could still legally purchase and unlock a phone.

Carriers often lock the phones that they sell in order to prevent consumers from using them on their competitor’s networks – although many devices purchased outside of a contract are already unlocked. Customers who have fulfilled their contracts can request that the carrier unlock their device – but unfortunately, all of the power lies with the carrier.

While I’m sure AT&T and Verizon executives are jumping for joy over the situation, I cannot help but view it as yet another failure of the U.S. legal system – and one which harms consumers and violates property rights when all is said and done.

Welcome to the United States of America – the Land of the “Free” (unless the alternative is more convenient).


J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.