The Tech News Daily reports that a new federal policy in the United States is set to go into effect this Saturday that will make it illegal for certain mobile phone owners to unlock their devices for use on other carriers. In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed after a 90-day window allowing people to still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on January 26.
As Macrumors explains: “Unlocking devices allows users to take their phones to other carriers such as T-Mobile or to use SIM cards from international carriers while traveling abroad without needing to purchase expensive international roaming packages from their domestic carrier.“
This doesn’t mean you can’t own an unlocked phone, since AT&T began unlocking iPhones for customers whose contract terms were completed, Verizon iPhone 5’s are already unlocked and Sprint announced it would unlock the SIM card slot on its iPhones for international usage three months after purchase.
Federal Register: The Register concluded after a review of the statutory factors that an exemption to the prohibition on circumvention of mobile phone computer programs to permit users to unlock “legacy” phones is both warranted and unlikely to harm the market for such programs. At the same time, in light of carriers’ current unlocking policies and the ready availability of new unlocked phones in the marketplace, the record did not support an exemption for newly purchased phones. Looking to precedents in copyright law, the Register recommended that the class designated by the Librarian include a 90-day transitional period to allow unlocking by those who may acquire phones shortly after the new exemption goes into effect.