Good news everyone! We are relieved, we are SO relieved, because as of Saturday, there are criminal penalties (including jail time and a fine of up to $500,000) for unlocking your phone so you can switch cel phone providers.
Is this an oversight, you might be wondering? A mere loophole in an otherwise sound piece of legislation? Maybe there is a good explanation!
No, of course there isn’t, this is America, it took a special edict [PDF] from the Librarian of Congress to decide that fines and criminal penalties–including jail time and a fine up to $500,000 — applies to cel phone unlocking.
An edict from the Library of Congress is about to make phone unlocking illegal for the first time in 6 years. The decision, issued in October, is part of a triennial process whereby the Librarian of Congress hands out exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The two previous batches of regulations, issued in 2006 and 2010, respectively, granted users permission to unlock their phones in order to switch wireless carriers. But in the wake of a 2010 decision holding that software is licensed rather than sold, the Library reversed itself and declared phone unlocking illegal once again. The Librarian was also influenced by claims that there are more unlocked phones on the market than there were three years ago.
Oh you still can’t decide whether or not this law is stupid? Fine, for the purposes of critical analysis, here is a list of things that will not lead to criminal prosecutions in the United States:
Laundering money for murderous Mexican drug cartels.
Bringing down the world economy.
Impersonating a woman’s boyfriend in order to rape her.
Evading avoiding taxes.
Foreclosing on the wrong house.
Enhancedly interrogating someone.
But we are optimists, so we will point out that although you can’t unlock your phone, you can still unlock your tablet and if you get bored with that, you can still impersonate a woman’s boyfriend to not-rape her (if you are in California) and then go celebrate by wrongly foreclosing on someone’s house, crashing the world economy, and laundering money for drug dealers (if you are a bank).