The Legalities of Cell Phone Unlocking

When you buy a cell phone, it’s yours to do with as you please, right? If you open a contract with a service carrier, you just have to finish the contract and you can take the phone where you wish? Well, not according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which as of now prohibits “phone unlocking.” However, that is set to change with a new petition that is being furthered by mobile phone enthusiasts, and the White House is listening.

What is Phone Unlocking?

Most consumers buy their cell phones through a phone service carrier, who sells phones at a discounted price to customers that agree to buy into a contract with the service carrier. Cell phones can be pretty expensive to buy otherwise, so in return for the commitment to a phone service, you get an affordable phone. However, these phones contain a virtual lock that only allows them to be used with the originating carrier’s service; if you try to switch services you will find that your phone doesn’t work with another carrier’s service.

Naturally there are many phone enthusiasts out there that don’t care for this feature very much. Besides not being able to do what you want with your own phone, there is a more general argument that this practice is anti-competitive and reduces innovation between carriers. If carriers can lock you in early, they have no reason to improve their services to compete with others in the market. Carriers argue back that because they provide subsidies for the phones, they should be entitled to reciprocation from the customer, though many carriers implement the locks even after the initial contracts are up.

The Petition

It hasn’t always been this way. The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act declared it illegal for customers to attempt to bypass the locks, but in the 2006 and 2010 version of the act, special exemptions were declared that made it legal to bypass the lock. Earlier this year, the Library of Congress removed the exemptions upon reviewing the DMCA. This angered more than a few mobile phone enthusiasts who want to be able to unlock their phones after paying for them. One of these enthusiasts advanced a petition that calls for the legalization of phone unlocking, which achieved around 114, 322 signatures before getting the White House’s support in March.

That is not to say that unlocking is yet legal. It is still illegal to bypass the lock. However the White House has announced that it is looking for legal solutions to the problem, so expect that status to change.

Protecting Your Phone with Urban Armor Gear’s iPhone 5 Cases

While you are waiting for the phone unlock function to become legalized, why not act to protect your phone physically with Urban Armor Gear’s well-designed iPhone 5 cases? Have an iPhone 5? Shop for some iPhone 5 cases that make your phone look great as they protect it with advanced designs for maximum support. Your iPhone 5 will be safe in its case by the time that phone unlock is legalized. Shop our iPhone 5 cases today.

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