Starting Saturday, it may be illegal for you to unlock your smartphone in the US

When you buy a smartphone, you usually have to stick with your wireless carrier for the life of that phone. Unlocking the smartphone so it can be used by other wireless carriers has always been frowned upon by those wireless companies in the US. Starting on Saturday, it will also be against the law.

As Cnet.com reports, a new rule in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that was first approved in October will now make it illegal for people who own a locked smartphone to make it unlocked, unless they get permission to do so with their wireless provider.

The new DMCA rule basically says that consumers have a "wide range of alternatives" in terms of buying a phone that's already unlocked.  US citizens have the choice to buy a smartphone that's unlocked already or buy one that is locked to a certain carrier. If they choose the latter, they won't be able to later unlock that phone on their own starting tomorrow.

There is a small exception. If you buy a phone, used or unused, that was previously bought by someone else, you will have the right to unlock that phone from the wireless carrier on your own. International visitors to the US are also free to bring their unlocked smartphones for use in the country.

There's no word yet on what kinds of punishment will be given out if you are caught unlocking a smartphone starting on Saturday.

Source: Cnet.com
Smartphone image via Shutterstock

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