aNewDomain.net – As of Jan. 26, 2013, unlocking a locked smartphone without the carrier’s permission became illegal in the United States. The new regulation is part of an update to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and it’s already causing all sorts of confusion and annoyance across the country.
The change was first issued by the Librarian of Congress (the Library of Congress is the rule-making body for the DMCA) back in October. At the time it went into effect, a 90-day “transition period” began to give people a chance to transition to unlocked phones by whatever means they felt comfortable with — unlocking smartphones still violates most user agreements and contracts with carriers. That period finally ran out, meaning that any new smartphones purchased after that date cannot be unlocked without carrier authorization under penalty of law.
aNewDomain.net’s Eric Mack has been covering the story and has more details and answers to frequently asked questions about the new rule. Among the queries he’s been fielding — how in the world will the government enforce this? The answer remains to be seen, but it’s likely to involve the carriers. If a wireless service provider detects that you’ve unlocked your phone, there’s already a chance you could get a stern letter or e-mail about it. Now you’re likely to get a very similar note in the same scenario, only this time it carries the force of law behind it. And, of course, there’s always the chance a carrier could decide to make an example out of a rogue unlocker and actually threaten legal action.
But does this new rule apply to phones that come unlocked? What about used phones? For those answers and more, watch the tech news roundup video below:
Based in Taos, New Mexico, Eric Mack is a veteran tech writer and news editor at aNewDomain.net. Email him at Ericm@aNewDomain.net and gplus.to/ericmack on Google+. Follow him at twitter.com/ericcmack.