Jan 26, 2013
U.S. smartphone users cannot unlock phones without the expressed permission of commercial phone carriers as of Saturday, January 26, 2013.
The ban states that phone users can no longer decouple a phone from one carrier and move to another carrier that uses the same cellular technology unless the carrier agrees to supply the unlock code --- which can be rare.
To unlock a mobile phone and connect it to a compatible network overseas when visiting another country by buying a new SIM card for phone and Internet service is now an uphill battle.
The ban also makes it difficult to find a decent used unlocked smartphone at a fair price from now on.
Phone locking is the major carriers' way of keeping consumers locked into phone service contracts in a multi-billion-dollar industry. It's all about the Benjamins, apparently.
A federal ban on something usually comes about through an act of Congress, a Supreme Court decision or from voters. Was this the case with this new phone unlocking ban?
No, this particular decision was up to 83-year-old Congressional Librarian James Hadley Billington and his personal interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which was intended to prevent digital piracy.
Are average consumers now considered guilty of digital piracy for unlocking their own cell phone which they purchased and legally own?
The owner of the phone device does not own the firmware running on the mobile device, so altering the firmware is a violation of the copyright owned by the carrier, according to the librarian's interpretation.
From now on, the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress are no longer allowing phone unlocking as an exemption under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
If your phone was unlocked before today, you are grandfathered in and won't be in trouble with the law.
An 83-year-old librarian's lone decision will see Americans incarcerated in prisons nationwide for unlocking a cell phone.
Unlocking a smartphone is illegal in America as of today. Unlock and get locked up.
Apparently, the phone industry's alternative solution is for consumers to hand over more cash for new unlocked phone and thus avoid Smartphone jail or iPhone prison.