As of Saturday, January 26th, 2013, it is illegal to unlock your cell phone in the United States of America...videodailymail article
Jailbreaking cell phones to become ILLEGAL at midnight: Law makes
'unlocking' devices to switch carriers punishable by fines and even
12:26 EST, 26 January 2013
13:42 EST, 26 January 2013
A new law that makes it illegal to
'unlock' your cell phone and switch carriers goes into effect today and
will carry fines between $2,500 and $500,000, and in some cases, prison
The change made by the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of
Congress to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act will make it illegal for consumers to unlock mobile devices without the permission of their carrier.
lock feature on mobile devices essentially allows carriers a way to
prevent customers from switching to a new plan with a different company.
Unless your phone came unlocked and are grandfathered in under the law,
you're device is legally chained to your service provider.
many users, unlocking a phone is a necessary fix, opening up a feature
and freedom that people need to effectively use their devices,' reads a
blog post on iFixit.com, 'The Copyright Office’s decision to outlaw this
right of ownership hurts users and further empowers carriers to trap
Now, it is illegal to unlock a phone from a carrier unless you have that carrier's permission.
'It wasn't a good ruling,' Rebecca Jeschke, a digital rights analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told ABC News. 'You
should be able to unlock your phone. This law was meant to combat
copyright infringement, not to prevent people to do what they want to do
with the device they bought.'
So what could happen if you unlocked your phone now that it's illegal?
of the DMCA [unlocking your phone] may be punished with a civil suit
or, if the violation was done for commercial gain, it may be prosecuted
as a criminal act,' Brad Shear, a Washington, D.C.-area attorney and
blogger who is an expert on social media and technology law, told ABC
News. 'A carrier may sue for actual damages or for statutory damages.'
The worst-case scenario could be a fine as high as $500,000 and include prison time
The worst-case scenario for an
individual or civil offense could be as much as a $2,500 fine. As for
those planning to profit off of the act or a criminal offense -- such as
a cellphone reseller -- the fine could be as high as $500,000 and
include prison time.
don't see carriers going aggressively after people, but bottom line is
that I would not recommend violating this provision of the law,' Shear