January 28, 2013

Want To Unlock Your Cell Phone? – It’s Now Illegal

Over the weekend it officially became illegal to unlock your cell phone. That means you can no longer switch carriers, at least not with subsidized cell phones, and well, at least not legally. This is yet another example of greed run amok, which is what happens when you have unfettered capitalism. We’ve allowed the rights and privileges of corporations (remember, corporations are people too!) to rise above the rights and privileges of the common citizen.

Android on Nexus - photo by Georgo10

Starting Today, It’s Illegal to Unlock Your Cellphone

ABC News — Why now? Starting today, the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress are no longer allowing phone unlocking as an exemption under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

You can read the full docket here but, in short, it is illegal to unlock a phone from a carrier unless you have that carrier’s permission to do so. If you’re wondering what this has to do with copyright, it turns out not much.

“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.”

As if cell phone carriers weren’t already raping their customers with obscene monthly service charges (something I refuse to partake in), they feel the need to further limit customer choice. It’s a free market advocate wet dream. Don’t believe the bullshit when someone tells you regulations should be limited and corporations allowed to self-police. What happens is corporations, in turn, control our government, limit consumer choice, and ultimately limit our freedom as citizens.

The carriers argue that they should be allowed to keep phones locked to their respective services because they are subsidizing the cost of the phone. But this argument assumes that cell phones, and more specifically, smart phones, are really worth $600-$700. It also assumes the carriers are charging a fair price for their service. If the phone and the service contract are unfairly priced, then what exactly is being subsidized?

Until such time that consumers voice their opposition with their wallets, I’m afraid not much is going to change.

photo by Georgo10

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