Unauthorized Unlocking of Smartphones Becomes Illegal


The issue of unlocking a smartphone that has been purchased under a hefty carrier discount, has shifted from a ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ question to a legal one.

Right when you thought it wasn’t a sin to jailbreak your phone, it is.

Back in January it became illegal “to unlock a new smartphone without the permission of the carrier that locked it in the first place.” This can be followed back to October, when the Library of Congress, who handles the rules regarding the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, says this:

“…with respect to new wireless handsets, there are ample alternatives to circumvention. That is, the marketplace has evolved such that there is now a wide array of unlocked phone options available to consumers. While it is true that not every wireless device is available unlocked, and wireless carriers’ unlocking polices are not free from all restrictions, the record clearly demonstrates that there is a wide range of alternatives from which consumers may choose in order to obtain an unlocked wireless phone.”

Honestly, this is only fair.

Do you disagree?

But What If I Want to Unlock/Jailbreak My Phone?

Not to worry. If you purchase a used phone or purchase a phone without a contract, you’re golden. Hack and unlock to your hearts desire. If you think this law is silly and should be ignored, think again.

There are two things to consider:

  • You’re breaking the law.
  • You’re carrier can come after you.

Sure, carrier’s could have sent nasty letters before, the only difference now is they can throw-in Federal regulations.

Moreover, as a Christian, we shouldn’t be breaking law. Am I right?

As for being”fair,” these phones are being offered at a discount under the carriers terms. If unlocking the phone goes against their terms, you shouldn’t get the phone at a reduced rate. If you want the deal, it’s up to you to keep your end of the bargain.


[via CNET | Image via FHKE via Compfight cc]


Eric Dye

I am a blogger, business owner and lover of coffee. I spend most of my time as Programs Director for Open Church, but you'll also find me as a writer and editor for ChurchMag, as well as working on Live Theme and ChurchMag Press. All while enjoying my family and sipping espresso in Italy.

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  1. says

    the Christian card :) love it. I’m not a “fan” of jail breaking but I know missionaries who do it. never really asked why but yeah. So I guess technically I don’t care to a degree ya know.

  2. says

    Jailbreaking isn’t illegal. Unlocking maybe depending on your carrier, how old the device is, if its still in contract or what country you live in. Missionaries typically unlock out of contract used iPhones to allow them to work on originally unsupported networks.

    • says

      Exactly. The new law in the United States allows it, but not if your carrier says you can’t as they are offering the phone at a low price point because of the contract.

  3. Ron Gehrke says

    Unlocking and jailbreaking are two completely different things. It is not a ‘sin’ to jailbreak your device. It is legal (though it breaks your manufacturer warranty) to jailbreak. Yes, there are a great deal of illegal things you can do now that you have jailbroken your phone, but there are just as many legitimate reasons to do it.

    I do agree that due to this new law it would be immoral to unlock a device that was under contract without your carriers permission. I think that this is fair; that is why you received the phone at such a steep discount.

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