Starting from Saturday January 26 2013, unlocking any locked cell phone would become illegal in the United States. So, if you want to unlock your locked smartphone, you pretty much got 24 hours to get it done just to be on safe side. Personally, I like jailbreaking or unlocking phones to use with any carrier I want to but it seems like those days are about to be over in the U.S.
Now, unlocking a phone means making it free to use with any desired carrier network that you want. So, you may buy a phone from one operator and can use it with other network. However in the U.S., most carrier based phones are locked especially iPhones and higher class android phones etc. which means you have to use phone with a very specific carrier only. Let’s not forget, you can always buy an unlocked phone and can use it with any carrier you want.
For an instance, you simply go to an Apple store and buy and unlocked version of iPhone 5 for $649 and can start using it with any carrier that supports iPhone 5. On the other hand, you can also buy an iPhone from AT&T at a very lower price tag with a two year contract. In that case you must use your iPhone with AT&T for a specific period of time. Until that time, you can’t use your iPhone with other carrier because it is locked by AT&T itself. In the past many people did that but unlocking such phone would be illegal from Saturday.
I still remember it pretty well that my first iPhone was also an unlocked one and it was great to have such an awesome phone to use with my preferred carrier.
This law is being enforced under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which was originally created against hacker and users like you and me to stop unlocking cell phones by paying a third party for the unlock code.
On the other hand, advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) questions whether the DMCA has the right to determine who can unlock a phone. In an email to TechNewsDaily, EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz said, “Arguably, locking phone users into one carrier is not at all what the DMCA was meant to do. It’s up to the courts to decide.”