Unlocking smartphones without carrier permission to be illegal from Jan 26

Unlocking smartphones without carrier permission to be illegal from Jan 26

According to a recent ruling by the Library of Congress, consumers who purchase smartphones after Saturday, January 26, will not be able to legally unlock their handsets - for using the device with some other network - without the carrier's permission.

The new law - which, from Saturday onwards, makes it illegal to unlock smartphones without carrier permission - took shape after an October ruling by the Library of Congress' Register of Copyrights.

In its ruling, the Register of Copyrights, which has the power to determine exemptions to Congress' 1998-passed Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), had stated that the practice of unlocking cellphones and tablets without the permission of the carrier should be deemed illegal. As a result, it will no longer be legal to unlock a smartphone by entering a code or using some third-party service to eliminate the restrictions which lock the handset down to a particular carrier.

About reversing of the device-unlocking policy, the Copyright Office had clearly stated in its ruling that the move will apparently not have any adverse impact because of the fact that there is now "a wide array of unlocked phone options available to consumers."

When the Copyright Office gave its ruling, paving the way for the new law, it had brought into force the most recent group of DCMA exemptions effective from October 28; and had given a 3-month grace period, which will come to an end on January 26.

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