Here’s a question to ponder for a moment, is your cell phone yours? You paid for it, you pay for the plan that makes it useful, you have it in your possession, and you store your personal data on it so obviously it’s yours, right? Wrong. Your cell phone belongs to the state, which is why, beginning tomorrow, you could be kidnapped and locked in a cage for unlocking the phone in your pocket:
The clock to unlock a new mobile phone is running out.
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 January 26.
Unlocking a phone frees it from restrictions that keep the device from working on more than one carrier’s network, allowing it run on other networks that use the same wireless standard. This can be useful to international travellers who need their phones to work on different networks. Other people just like the freedom of being able to switch carriers as they please.
How could the act of unlocking “your” cell phone be illegal? In the name of defending the legal fiction of intellectual property the state passed a law known as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which made it a criminal act to circumvent Digital Rights Management (DRM). In 2009 the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was able to get an exemption in the DMCA for unlocking cell phones but those exemptions must be renewed periodically and the state apparently has no desire to renew such an exemption. Just remember that you live in a free country where the right to property is guaranteed by the Constitution. Oh, and we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.