Unlocking a new network-locked smartphone so that it can be used on another network is now illegal in the USA. In fact, it’s a criminal offence with first-time offenders risking a maximum five-year prison sentence and a $500,000 fine.
This change to the law came into effect at the weekend after an exemption to America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act was withdrawn. The DMCA, which became law in 1998, is intended to prevent people from using technology that bypasses copyright protection. Smartphone unlocking had previously been excluded from the DCMA for a number of years. Although phones bought before the weekend are exempt, those purchased this week can’t be unlocked legally without permission from the original supplier.
However, jailbreaking a smartphone - enabling it to run ‘unofficial’ software - is still allowed.
[More details: newswireless.net; arstechnica.com; BBC News]