Unlocking Your Own Cellphone To Be Illegal In The US, Starting Tomorrow

Last year in October, the Library of Congress decided that unlocking cell phones would no longer be allowed in the U.S., while granting a 90-day window during which people could still purchase a new cell phone and unlock it. That window will close tomorrow i.e January 26, as pointed out by TechNews Daily. While the new rule won’t be a problem for everybody, it may be a concern for international travellers who need their phones to work on different networks.


The Library of Congress also determines exemptions to the anti-hacking law Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) questions whether DMCA can determine who can unlock a phone and who can’t. EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz said, “Arguably, locking phone users into one carrier is not at all what the DMCA was meant to do. It’s up to the courts to decide”, according to the source.

If you do buy a new phone and want to unlock it before the deadline, you must first ask your carrier if the company will unlock your phone for you. The DMCA only permits you to unlock your phone yourself once you’ve asked your carrier first.

Christopher S. Reed from the U.S. Copyright Office noted in an email to TechNewsDaily that “only a consumer, who is also the owner of the copy of software on the handset under the law, may unlock the handset.”

But come Saturday, you’ll have to break the law to unlock your phone. If you want to get in under the gun, you can search the Internet for the code to enter to unlock the phone or find a tool that will help you accomplish the task.

T-mobile, one of the big four U.S. carriers that doesn’t sell the iPhone, who urges its subscribers to “bring your own device”, will most likely suffer from the decision.