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In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed. But the librarian provided a 90-day window during which people could still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on Jan. 26.
Cellphone Unlocking In The U.S.A. Becomes Illegal From January 26 [mashable.com]
The new rule against unlocking phones won't be a problem for everybody, though. For example, Verizon's iPhone 5 comes out of the box already unlocked, and AT&T will unlock a phone once it is out of contract.
You can also pay full-price for a phone, not the discounted price that comes with a two-year service contract, to receive the device unlocked from the get-go. Apple sells an unlocked iPhone 5 starting at $649, and Google sells its Nexus 4 unlocked for $300.
Phone unlocking ban could could hit you in the wallet [techhive.com]
That decision was made not by voters, the courts, or even Congress. It was made by one man, 83-year-old Congressional Librarian James Hadley Billington, who is responsible for interpreting the meaning of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Billington decided last October that unlocking your phone yourself is a violation of the Act, which was originally written to prevent digital piracy.
When Billington made his decision, he also granted a 90-day exemption period in which people could still buy phones that they could later unlock, but only after asking their carrier to do it and getting “no” for an answer. That period ends Saturday. After that, the question of whether or not the smartphone you buy is truly your own gets a little fuzzy.
The idea that a decision that will affect so many, and involves so much money, could rest on a single unelected person is bizarre at best and absurd at worst.