Is it illegal to unlock a phone? The EFF weighs in

First, the good news. The legal shield for jailbreaking and rooting your phone remains up – it’ll protect us at least through 2015. The shield for unlocking your phone is down, but carriers probably aren’t going to start suing customers en masse, RIAA-style. And the Copyright Office’s decision, contrary to what some sensational headlines have said, doesn’t necessarily make unlocking illegal.

Mitch Stoltz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) explains how legal protection has expired for U.S. citizens who unlock their own phones without their carrier’s permission; what it means going forward and how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) affects American consumers.

  • Patspicks

    Pretty soon we won’t be able to sell our old cars

    • Well, if you bought your car at a discount provided you will keep owning it and fill it with gas from a specific station, then YES, you won’t be able to sell your old car.

  • The solution to this? Ban phone subsidies and carrier locking.

    A subsidy is a just hidden loan at outrageous rates.

    A brand new carrier in France is trying to break this mold. You cancel your monthly subscription whenever you want and they offer no subsidy. And they managed to divide the price of montly subscription by two.

  • gjgustav

    Why is this even a law? If a carrier doesn’t want you to unlock the subsidized phone, they should lease or “rent-to-own” the phone to you. Then it is their property until the subsidy is paid off and they can stipulate no jailbreaking in the contract.

  • Jim H

    Buy the phone unlocked to begin with. If you can’t afford to, then buy a cheaper phone. Everyone wants to have the latest and greatest even if they can’t afford it. I suppose if the phone companies wanted to they could subsidize the phone at a more reasonable rate, but come on, why would they do that? t is business after all.