Unlocking the smartphone becomes tougher from today
From Saturday, moving to another carrier while keeping your old smartphone will become more difficult. In simple words, unlocking your smartphone is going to become more difficult from Saturday.
Smartphone users who purchase their phone after Saturday will need to take carrier’s permission before unlocking the smartphone. For instance, if you purchase an iPhone 5 on a two-year contract from Verizon Wireless, and later change your idea and wish to switch to AT&T, then you will need to take permission of Verizon before unlocking your device. Otherwise you may run in legal troubles.
Users will need to take this permission because of Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that was passed by Congress in 1998. Accessing digital copyrighted content or breaking digital rights management technologies has been made illegal in that act. The software that binds a carrier with a smartphone is also a part of such technology and unlocking is a process of breaking the technology of that software. Needless to say, it is covered in the act. So without carrier’s permission, users won’t be able to unlock their smartphones. And I don’t think that any carrier will give this permission to it’s customers.
The act was passed in 1998 and came fully in effect at October 28 2012, but a 90-day grace period was provided to users and that period ends on Saturday.
Note that only smartphones purchased after Saturday will get affected from the law. Means if you have purchased your device before Saturday, you still have the right of unlocking your smartphone without asking to anyone.
However, some people have shown worries about the act and have said that this act comes in the way of competition and is strictly an anti-competitive move that will bind customers to spend more money on the smartphone products. This move will also increase the amount of electronic waste in the country as users will need to purchase a new smartphone every time they want to change their carrier.
One way to get rid of the hassle is to buy an unlocked smartphone that is free of contract. But such a smartphone will easily set you back with $100 or $200 more than the on-contract smartphone. Companies subsidize the costs of smartphones purchased on-contract and later make it back from our pockets in form of voice and data bills.