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Thread: Unlocking your Phone - now a federal crime with huge penalties

  1. Master Droid
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    Unlocking your Phone - now a federal crime with huge penalties

    Hard to believe but the US government has now made it a federal crime to unlock a cell phone, as that act is no longer an exception to the DMCA beginning on Saturday, January 26. The reason for ending this exception is because the US Government doesn't believe consumers need to do so at this time, as they are of the opinion that there are now adequate ways to obtain an unlocked cell phone (either through the market pre-unlocked or via a wireless carrier). What's shocking are the enforceable penalties that can be imposed (not saying they will be but they are there.) First offenders face up to 5 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Repeat offenders up the winnings to up to 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The words of the statute that provide for these penalties are attributable to someone who "willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain." So the way I read it, if you unlocked your cellphone in order to switch carriers and pay less for the services, you could be sentenced under the statute. While the cellphone police aren't breaking down your door, nobody knows how this one will ultimately play out. I doubt carriers will want to discuss the potential penalties except to say you shouldn't be breaking protective measures. Note: there is an exemption for phones purchased prior to this date and the amendment applies prospectively.

    Here's an article by the EFF as to recent events and what it has done to keep jailbreaking from being illegal. Oddly enough, jailbreaking your tablet is still illegal.
    Last edited by slinky; 01-29-2013 at 08:13 AM.
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  3. Droid Ninja
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    I know there's a thread on this in the regular news section, but I don't think it mentioned the penalties. They're beyond ridiculous. I have yet to see a single situation in which someone has unlocked phones in any way that is immoral or a danger to others, and to criminalize it is utterly ridiculous. It would suck if this comes down to someone ending up like the guy from Reddit and having to kill himself before this gets re-evaluated.

    I can't say anything less than that it is utterly clear how much say big money corporations had in getting something like this passed. Of course, there's a reason America has the largest prison population on earth and the largest percentage of citizens who have spent time incarcerated. Stupidity at its finest.
    What is best in life? "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."
  4. Master Droid
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    I didn't see anything in news and the penalties are why I felt it important to highlight, especially in light of what happened to Aaron Swartz. Sonny Bono made sure that before he passed on that copyright law extended for many more years for corporate ownership. I agree with you on who is behind these laws but not on stupidity, just priorities.
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