On January 26, the US Librarian of Congress banned unlocking new mobile phones without permission from the carrier.
When you buy a phone, it usually comes locked to the carrier you bought it from. Prior to January 26th, you could lawfully unlock your phone and take it overseas or switch carriers. Now, people who unlock their phones without notifying their carrier face crazy fines: up to $500,000 and 5 years in jail.
This will hurt the resale value of phones because only people using the same carrier will be able to buy your old phone. Carriers are abusing copyright for their own profit. The law limits your freedom. And that’s not cool with us.
Fortunately, the White House wants to fix this! They just responded to a petition signed by over 100,000 people: “Consumers should be able to unlock their cellphones without risking criminal or other penalties.”
Now, it’s up to Congress: they need to make cell phone unlocking legal. The telecom lobby is strong, but we will beat them if enough of us make our voice heard. Tell your member of Congress to introduce and pass legislation that legalizes cellphone unlocking.
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about the unlocking battle, check out our in-depth article on The Atlantic.