Unlocking Cellular Devices Became Illegal Today
January 26, 2013 | 4:00 pm
By Keaton Keller
A while ago, I thought that cellphone carriers were unaware that consumers could buy a phone for the contract price and then use it anywhere unrestricted. Then, after a while I learned this wasn’t the case and that carriers had every possible loophole filled in.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a bill to hinder hackers from wandering away from their device’s service provider, will now include an additional rule stating that unlocking phones will be deemed illegal.
Keep in mind, people will do it and in the past we’ve seen the U.S. Government do something like this before. Jailbreaking, the act of putting a custom ROM on an iOS device, was granted illegal, but then drawn back for iPhones. Also just recently, jailbreaking iPads has become illegal.
One question keeps pulsing around in my head: How will the government enforce this? Will their be an exuberant fine? Will jail time be a feasible solution to end the unlocking of one’s cellular device?
I can see why massive carriers are becoming enraged, as the act directly hurts their business. Unlocking phones creates a deficit and takes away potential profit that could be earned. A recent statistic has been published stating that a normal smartphone with a minimum data plan can produce a wireless carrier $2,600 over a two-year contract. Now multiply that number by the number of U.S. residents with unlocked cellphones. That is a big risk and loss of money.
Granted, there are loop holes, such as buying devices on contract, waiting a month while in service and then paying the standard $200 cancellation fee. If you compare the numbers, it’s still less than buying the phone pre-unlocked or outright from the carrier/manufacturer. Clearly carriers are cracking down on this, and will continue fighting for their profit.