Only 48 Hours Until It’s Illegal to Unlock Your New Cell Phone

A controversial new federal policy in the United States takes effect on Saturday. If you unlock your new cell phone, you could be breaking the law. Last fall, the Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress determined that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be permissible, but a 90-day window was established for people to …   Read More

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A controversial new federal policy in the United States takes effect on Saturday. If you unlock your new cell phone, you could be breaking the law.

Last fall, the Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress determined that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be permissible, but a 90-day window was established for people to still buy a phone and unlock it.

That window closes January 26th. As of Saturday, it will be illegal – yes, against the law – for certain mobile phone owners to unlock their devices for use on other carriers.

Exemptions can be made for mobile owners specifically authorized by their carriers to make the jump to another operator.

It should be noted, however, that the policy applies to newly purchased devices but not to legacy devices purchased before the controversial new policy takes effect.

Do you agree with the new mandate regarding cell phones and whether they can be unlocked or are consumers losing a fundamental right of cell phone ownership? Please weigh in with a thought or comment below.

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5 comments

  1. Bianca

    Not Sure, I would have to read the details on the law. If what they aretrying to do is help the carries not to loose money on devices. Then it seems fair. Example: Everything is a business… If you go to At&t and you are a new customer who got a device for free (carefullll nothing is for free) and you have a 2 year contract. But you decide that is is better to pay the penalty because it cost less than than buying the phone you want. Then the person who looses $$$ are the carries because the phone (iPhone) was worth much more than a penalty. $600-800 to be exact.
    Now if I follow through with my contract and complete the two years then the carrier looses nothing I already paid for that supposed free phone and should have the right to go and unlock it.

  2. D. M. Mitchell

    It seems to me that the money interests in the cell phone industry has lobbied Congress to pass this law. If you own the phone it is your property and you should be able to unlock it. Whose rights are violated by unlocking your cell phone? A crime, a real crime, is the violation of the rights of another without good cause. This law violates the–as so many laws now do–the concept of inalienable rights. Hopefully, someone will challenge this law in court and, if it makes it to the Supreme Court, the Justices will protect our property rights. But I'm not holding my breath.

    I have an unlocked phone but (now don't laugh) its an old Nokia 1100B that I bought when I was living in Mexico. When I crossed the border to come back to the U.S. I could no longer use it, so I had to unlock it. I'm an old guy and I can call on my phone and text on it and that's all I need. (Okay, go ahead and laugh.)

  3. Russell41

    Not sure why the power grab by the government. I have a month to month service and I own an unlocked Nokia Lumia. I bought the phone out-right and I own it. Yes, I OWN IT! The government is saying that it's not mine. Obama wants to take our guns and now our cell phones. This is the biggest power hungry administration in the history of the US. IMPEACH!

    1. Arin

      'I own an unlocked Nokia Lumia. I bought the phone out-right and I own it. Yes, I OWN IT! The government is saying that it's not mine' – Where?

  4. poorcitizen

    This law is bs, first of all, once you own the phone you should be able to unlock it, second, there is a thing called "2 year contract", even if you unlock the damn phone or not you still get stucked with the contract, thats why theres a contract in the first place. These rich a$$holes in the white house know nothing about the cellphone world…

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