Well, it's good to see the ball rolling on this one already. In January, the US government deemed it illegal to unlock your cell phone without explicit carrier permission - and obviously, that didn't go down too well with consumers. Almost immediately, a petition was started that garnered over 115,000 signatures. President Obama took notice, and agreed that people should be able to unlock their phones if they own it.
Now, a bill has been introduced that aims to re-legalize the process. Utah Republican Mike Lee has said, "Consumers shouldn’t have to fear criminal charges if they want to unlock their cell phones and switch carriers", and I couldn't agree more. I'm of the belief that if you own something, you should be able to do whatever it is you want with it without the fear of a criminal charge - within reason of course. I wouldn't support someone turning a smartphone into a weapon, but hacking it? Bring it on.
The keyword here is "own", however. If you're under a contract with a carrier and acquired your device via it, you don't technically own it until the contract is complete. Thus, if you were to cease the contract (by simply not paying) and then unlocked your phone to bring it elsewhere, that could possibly skirt the legal line. We're early in this process, so we'll have to wait for things to progress before we can get the specifics.
With the bill having already been presented, we can only hope that the process will continue to go fluidly and it'll be over before we know it - especially given the fact that this shouldn't have had to be done in the first place.
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