I don’t know how many of you were aware that a couple of months ago, in October 2012, the US Librarian of Congress edited the anti-hacking law called DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), forbidding any US citizen to unlock their cellphone, at least legally. The law, as strange as it may seem, has been voted and approved, giving all people a rather short time-frame in which they can still release the bounds of a phone and use it with any carrier, whatsoever. Well, that time frame will expire in less than 24 hours.
In one of the greatest censorship moves we’ve seen in the past few years, the Congress has given people only 90 days to legally unlock their cellphone, afterwards, this deed being punished by the copyright law. It seems that this motion has passed with thought towards protecting the carrier-made software.
What will happen from Saturday, 26th Jan 2013
Well, the answer is a bit foggy at the moment, but this is what we know. Starting with January 26, most cellphones within USA should remain locked, unless explicitly permitted by the carrier. This copyright law wants to protect the software developed by a carrier and transmitted to a handset, software which is considered “loaned” to a consumer, which has no right of modification or distribution.
Moreover, only consumers will be considered punishable when unlocking cellphones, allowing telecommunication companies like Verizon and AT&T to continue doing it, or should I say Apple, Samsung and Microsoft, completely legal. Certain tiny gates have yet to be discussed, like if this processed will be considered illegal if done outside US borders.
Just as a quick reminder, unlocking a phone allows owners to use the device with any carrier, whatsoever. The process is different from jailbreaking, but as the first gives users the ability to install applications from any worldwide developer, the second bestows them with the advantage of choosing the perfect plan or, temporarily switch to a local carrier while traveling abroad. Without unlocking, owners will be forced to pay expensive fees for international/roaming calls and data, fees that may extend even to 6 euros / MB.
Another side-effect will target two carriers, AT&T and Verizon, which will probably receive a boost in sales as Verizon sells unlocked iPhone 5’s right out of the box and AT&T frees the smartphone once a contract has been terminated. On the other hand, T-Mobile may see a drop as they are the only ones without an iPhone on sale.
As a result, an online petition towards the Obama regime has been started, and gathers more and more votes as we speak. Until the White House notices it, you have only 48 hours to unlock your phone.