Smartphone unlocking becomes illegal – Will you still do it?

Frank Taylor January 26, 2013 47


This might seem to be a good news all those iPhone users who might have unlocked their carrier-locked devices and most certainly a bad news for all those iPhone users who are still using their carrier-locked devices and have not unlocked it yet!

 

Because January 26 is the last day of freedom for smartphone unlocking. So if you still want to mess around with your smartphone or get it unlocked, then today is the day! From tomorrow, there will be a new federal mandate after which carrier locked phones cannot be unlocked without the carrier’s permission.

iPhone 5S

This new rule will have a lot of new results. This rule will definitely impact all those potential customers who are planning to buy a new smartphone after today. Honestly and practically speaking, if someone really wants to get their smartphone unlocked even after this rule has been implemented, it might be really difficult to stop them. But the point of consideration here is that if you are somehow found, or if the carrier is able to find out that you have messed with  your smartphone, then the carrier will definitely have an upper hand and might be able to enforce strict action or charges against you.

Carriers have always known that customers intend to unlock their carrier locked smartphone right from the time they buy it. This is something that no one can have a control on and no one can ever completely control and stop this activity.

But on the other side, not this activity will be termed as ‘Illegal’. May be there have been a lot of customers who opted for unlocking in the past since it was not a crime, since it was not considered illegal. But now things have changed. It is quite possible that a large customer base will understand the new rule and prefer to stick to it and follow it. May be the days of unlocking smartphones are over, may be these activities will slow down.

The best way to find out what happens, it to let today pass and then see what happens when the new rule comes into power.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003386080045 John doe

    unlocked wife’s phone last night on the stroke of midnight for 5hits and giggles.

    • EdB

      Unlocked the phone from the carrier or unlocked the boot loader? Two completely different things.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003386080045 John doe

        Why yes they are two different things. one allows you two root and install ROMs on your phone and the other allows for different SIMs to work on your phone. What we are talking about here is unlocking the SIM lock on phones.

  • Jack Meoff

    For a “Harvard graduate”, you really don’t know how to proof-read an article! Frank, your spelling is atrocious, and your grammar quite frankly stinks! Therefore, you would do well in my “administration”! Care to become my “Secretary of State”?

    • http://twitter.com/PeterJasonMN Peter

      He’s also planning on writing many ” best auto-biographies” of people, including Steve Jobs.

    • David Kang

      Except for colons and semicolons, punctuation is placed inside quotation marks. “Proofread” is one word, written without a hyphen. Your entry “and quite frankly” also requires a comma after “and” since you are inserting “quite frankly” as an interjection.

      But as for the article, I agree. It looks more like a middle school assignment than a professional report.

      • Penn Taylor

        The rule you cite for placement of other punctuation in relation to quotation marks is not universal among style manuals.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lacey.jensen.315 Lacey Jensen

      He does not even make a single reference to the source of the federal mandate, just states this is happening…I bet he graduated from Harvard Elementary…R E T A R D.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003386080045 John doe

    lets not forget that this is for subsidized phones only, if you buy your phone at full price you can do with it as you wish.

  • Rick

    This article is so filled with typos that it’s hard to believe that “a prestigious Harvard graduate” wrote it.

    • nhirsch

      I noticed the same thing and agree. If he wants to pursue that direction, he ought to get a proofreader.

    • Shizuppy

      Kind of sad that most comments here focus on grammar and spelling when the real issue is the awful laws that corporations purchase from our lawmakers these days.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lacey.jensen.315 Lacey Jensen

        Lawbreakers…not lawmakers…unless you have a gun and 20,000 rounds a ammo and legal access to explosives you’re dead within 5-10 years anyway…a drone will shove a missile so far up your ass we could just launch you to the moon…

      • BigAl1825

        The grammar and spelling is a sign of the collective ignorance that has sunk in, allowing us to reach a stage where corporations dictate our lives to us by controlling our government through lobbyists. If our “prestigious Harvard graduates” cannot effectively communicate to us what is happening, and if we are not able to clearly comprehend what they are communicating, then we’re, literally (pun intended), effed.

  • nhirsch

    interesting that iTunes unlocked my AT&T iPhone 4 when I upgraded the IOS last time. I had been trying to unlock it for awhile so was very pleasantly surprised when it happened. Perhaps it was the >2 year reason.

  • Prestigious UNC graduate

    Is Harvard prestigious or is this graduate prestigious?

  • http://www.facebook.com/RalphCFilleyJr Ralph Filley

    So, it’s against the law to unlock a smart phone as of the 26th, unless you purchase/own it outright? I can see how that would make sense, seeing as you’re pretty much rent-to-own on the phone until you pay it off…but on the other hand, it confuses me as to why the lawmakers wasted time undoing what they did not too long ago that as far as I can tell has caused no problems. Perhaps all phones should be retail priced and not subsidized so you can do whatever you want to them from the start. Would probably cut down on the phone bill every month a little too (wishful thinking).

    • EdB

      ” unless you purchase/own it outright?”

      That’s not even true from the way I understand it. The rule is if the carrier locked the phone, they get the final say if it can be unlocked, even if you paid full price for it. Unless it is unlocked when you purchased it, i.e., not from a specific carrier (doesn’t say AT&T, Verzion, etc) on it, you cannot unlock it.

      This is not to be confused with unlocking the bootloaded or installing custom ROMs. That is still legal. Just as long as the code that restricts the phone to a certain carrier is left in place, you can hack away at it all you want.

      Yeah. Pretty stupid isn’t it.

  • Dropout

    What an unbelievably stupid article! Congrats to you, Harvard grad!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brooke.leia Brooke Bielen

    I am appalled that the writer, being credited as a Harvard graduate, has such horrendous grammar. Have you ever heard of proofreading? Spellcheck? Or are these things just not important anymore in today’s world?

    • http://www.facebook.com/brooke.leia Brooke Bielen

      Oh, wait, I get it. The atrocious writing is to shift the focus away from the BS that is the subject of this article (i.e. making unlocking illegal), so the community anger will dissipate. Well played.

  • Nathan

    SO, now that phone you bought from AT&T can only be used with them? If your not happy with their service you now have to buy a whole new phone instead of just flashing new software and moving on. Another example of how what you have really isn’t yours. It may be illegal, but I run an unlocked HTC OneX: rooted / custom ROM on my phone and will continue to do so. Once you pay someone for something it should be yours and yours to do with it as you please.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lacey.jensen.315 Lacey Jensen

    Retarded elitist scum…go fuck yourself.

  • Neil Whelchel

    I think that they have the wrong idea, they should have made it illegal to lock a phone in the first place.

  • Paul

    Rick Who Really Cares! Did you understand the story?

  • http://twitter.com/nategatorc Nathan C

    In addition to the other problems, the article is flat out wrong. Cellphones that were purchased or used by January 26 can still be unlocked, including the “iPhone users that are still using their carrier-locked devices and have not unlocked it yet!” (emphasis in original)

    The rule change that adds the exemption is as follows:

    “(3) Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable a
    wireless telephone handset originally acquired from the operator of a
    wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety
    days after the effective date of this exemption to connect to a
    different wireless telecommunications network, if the operator of the
    wireless communications network to which the handset is locked has
    failed to unlock it within a reasonable period of time following a
    request by the owner of the wireless telephone handset, and when
    circumvention is initiated by the owner, an individual consumer, who is
    also the owner of the copy of the computer program in such wireless
    telephone handset, solely in order to connect to a different wireless
    telecommunications network, and such access to the network is authorized
    by the operator of the network.

    https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/26/2012-26308/exemption-to-prohibition-on-circumvention-of-copyright-protection-systems-for-access-control

    The key language in that wall of text is “originally acquired from the operator of a
    wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety
    days after the effective date of this exemption…” As Verge explains:

    “It’s also worth noting that the ruling upheld protection for rooting
    and jailbreaking, and doesn’t apply to phones purchased before tomorrow
    or used (“legacy”) devices. So it’s certainly possible that those
    seeking unlocked handsets will simply go to the second-hand market for
    their future needs. But after today, if you’re coming to your carrier
    expecting cheap devices without getting tied down by federal law, you’d
    best look elsewhere.”

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/25/3915414/psa-unlocking-your-phone-without-carrier-authorization-is-illegal. Also check out http://consumerist.com/2013/01/25/after-today-youll-need-your-wireless-providers-permission-to-unlock-new-cellphones/

  • http://twitter.com/dexcaliber Dex

    my phone!!! I’ll do what the hell I want with it, gov’t didn’t pay for the damn thing I did. To hell w/ the carriers and the gov’t

  • Taz

    Whoa… I never comment on articles but this one was painful to read. I guess I received a better education at my inferior state college. This “Harvard graduate” can’t even put a few paragraphs together. Good luck on that “auto-biography” LOL (seriously who spells it like that?!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Sherry-Brackett/100002170613082 Karen Sherry Brackett

    Grammer trolls stampede LOL Come on if you had finished reading you might have learned he purposefully adds quirks. There’s nothin g wrong with that and quiet frankly welcomed in my opinion. :D

    • BigAl1825

      Correcting “grammar” is not trolling, “quite” frankly. Misspelling and not understanding the English language is not quirky, it’s ignorant.

  • Frank Taylor, PhD, Phony Doosh

    Frank Taylor is an IMAGINARY prestigious Harvard graduate-TO BE? who is aspiring to THE IMPOSSIBLE TASK of writing “many” best “auto-biographies” (including one on his “mentor” the late Steve Jobs, WHOM THIS MAN HAS NEVER MET, AND JOBS WOULD HAVE NEVER TOLERATED.) He brings an DISengaging twist to his “journalism” and “writing” and by adding RUN-ON SENTENCES, being brutally IDIOTIC, and capITULATing subjects in a way that IS SUCH uncannily SIMPLE MINDED ANALYSIS and then CLAIM be “insightful” and YES, EVEN shocking. He believes that “BRUTAL, TWISTING, SHOCKING” SOME HOW IS NOT THE SAME AS THE “sensationalism” in today’s news stories NOW ON TO THE APOCALYPSE THEORY is the downfall of the new world age (THIS CAN’T BE SERIOUS)- and that accentuating the bests and worsts of something IS PROBABLY THE THE MOST GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT, VAGUE PLATITUDE is “‘really‘” cutting to the heart of the matter (UNTIL NOW.) YOU will be able to count on him to provide you with genuine 100% PURE UNCUT REAL NONSENSE reviews and news in regards to the freshest “technological crazes CRAZIES, CRAZUS” of today’s time, WHICH IS APPARENTLY 5TH GRADE ENGLISH.

    “The best way to find out what happens, it to let today pass and then see what happens…” FT YO SPELLCHKIT BRO

  • http://www.facebook.com/rjuliankoenig Robert J. Koenig

    I am a Harvard Graduate as well: and can’t spell either.

    What is interesting here is that it is the practice of locking phones that should be illegal.

  • http://twitter.com/lizardlicked lizard licked

    I think he confused his Harrverd education with Harvard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rjuliankoenig Robert J. Koenig

    The industry practice of selling GMS [SIM card] smart phones that are perpetually locked to a particular network is a “combination in restraint of trade”.

    [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restraint_of_trade].

    The entire CDMA structure at Verizon and Sprint is similarly unlawful.

    Once you have fulfilled the contract that had included a discount phone – the phone should then be freely yours. And Samsung is perfectly capable of manufacturing a phone for Verizon and Sprint that can later be used on any of the CDMA pay-as-you-go services.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.grosse.7 Joe Grosse

    What a juvenile attempt at an article. Where is the substance? Why is it illegal? Who is being protected by the law? A high school english class knows to ask such simple and basic questions when composing a paper. Harvard?

    • BigAl1825

      I agree. The author spent more time writing his bio than this article, and comes across as a totally unaware, pompous a$$ in doing so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Happ-Iness/100001681741977 Happ Iness

    i can’t wait 2 see Samsung galaxy s 4

  • vette04

    Google is going to have a field day with this law. Nexus 4 is only the beginning.

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  • sahana

    A White House petition to make unlocking cell phones legal again has passed 1 lakh signature . Passing the milestone means the U.S. government has to issue an official response. On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S Just before that went into effect , a petition was started at whitehouse.gov https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/make-unlocking-cell-phones-legal/1g9KhZG7 to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. ‘It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked,this can be done using any third party vendors like http://www.unlock-zone.com .The policy is a big issue for anyone who wants to use their phone abroad, without needing to go through their U.S.’ carrier’s expensive roaming and international plans. Additionally, anyone who wants to move to a new GSM carrier in the U.S. (such as T-Mobile to AT&T), will have issues.