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Last year the Librarian of Congress announced that unlocking your cellular device would become illegal after January 26th, 2013. Well, the day has come and it is now illegal to unlock your smartphone without the permission of your carrier. I am sure you are wondering just what happens if you break the law and unlock your smartphone anyways… well according to The Atlantic “In some situations, first time offenders may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for five years, or both. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $1,000,000, imprisonment for up to ten years, or both.”
Hold on a minute! Think about that, imagine going to prison and being locked up with all sorts of wackos for the act of unlocking your smartphone. While The Atlantic does mention violators would more likely be subject to civil liability under Section 1203 of the DMCA, it is still possible to be fined and sent to jail over something as petty as trying to use your smartphone with a different carrier.
Technically this means you really don’t own your smartphone now, do you.
Why is that acceptable? While people’s worst fears may be a bit unfounded, why do we accept a system where we allow such discretionary authority? If you or your child were arrested for this, would it comfort you to know that the prosecutor and judge could technically throw the book at you? Would you relax assuming that they probably wouldn’t make an example out of you or your kid? When as a society did we learn to accept the federal government having such Orwellian power? And is this the same country that used jurynullification against laws that it found to be unjust as an additional check upon excessive government power?
Right now the only thing you can do to prevent this is to sign a petition over at Whitehouse.gov. Currently there is nearly 35,000 signatures and the goal is to get around 100,000. We urge everyone living in the United States to sign the petition.