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

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

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).

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