Anti-Hacking Law Impacts Cell Phone Use
Unlocking No Longer Unlimited
Unlocking cell phones became illegal Saturday under the anti-hacking law called the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. That means you can no longer free your mobile phone to work on more than one carrier's network.
"We're talking about somebody who has a phone contract," says Dave "The Gadget Guy" Arland, President of Carmel-based Arland Communications. "It expires with a particular carrier and then you decide to bring your device to another carrier. That's not super easy to do here in the United States because different phone carriers use different systems."
The ruling comes from the Librarian of Congress who determines exemptions to the DMCA. A group called the Electronic Frontier Foundation is challenging that ruling.
"There's even been a petition...that's gone to the White House," said Arland.
But he says this probably doesn't have the "huge negative impact that some people think."
You still have the option of buying an unlocked phone for full price, rather than the discounted price that comes with a service contract. And for some providers, it's not an issue. Verizon's iPhone 5 comes already unlocked. And AT&T will unlock a phone that's out of contract.
"You also look at what most people do," says the Gadget Guy. "When their contract comes up and it's time to think about moving or staying, you really want a new phone."