A controversial new US law goes into effect on Saturday 26 January which prohibits cell phone users from unlocking their devices so they can be used with another carrier. The new law, which is overseen by the Librarian of Congress, is part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and is applicable to all newly purchased mobile phones purchased after January 26.
Many users unlock their phones when they travel to another country so their device can work on another network. Phones may also be unlocked to take advantage of features and services offered by a different carrier. However, phone companies like Verizon sell the iPhone 5 as an unlocked device, and AT&T will unlock a phone after it is out of contract.
The new rule prohibits cell phone users from using special tools and codes to unlock cell phones on their own and without the permission of the carrier they purchased the phone from. Note, unlocking a phone is different from jailbreaking a phone; the latter allows users to add non-official features and software to their device.
In response to the law, the “We the People” website has posted a petition that asks the White House and Librarian of Congress “to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes phone unlocking permanently legal.”
The petition requires 94,991 signatures, of which at this writing, 5,009 have been collected so far. The petition claims that the new rule “reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full.”
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