This Is Why Unlocking Your Phone Could Cost You $2,500

Remember the Digital Millenium Copyright Act from back in 2010? It’s reared its ugly head again now that a certain part of it has gone into full effect. We thought this might pertain to many of you, our tech loving readers. I’ll save you the legal mumbo jumbo and hundreds of pages of briefs (you can find that elsewhere) and break it down to the simple bottom line.

First: Are you likely to get caught and actually prosecuted for unlocking your own phone to use on another carrier? Not likely at all. It’s probably more likely you’ll walk outside on a sunny day and get struck by lightning. There isn’t a specific enforcement agency set out to arrest and prosecute individuals who unlock their own phones. However, fines range from $200 to $2,500 if you’re caught.

Second: If you run a small cell phone shop that advertises unlocking services, you should probably stop, since your penalty is much stiffer: $500,000 and up to 5 years in jail, just on the first offense.

Third: For the activists among us, there’s already a White House petition to repeal the Act, or to introduce a new, separate bill to make the practice of unlocking phones legal once again. As of the writing, it has nearly 50,000 signatures towards its 100,000 signature-goal. You can sign it here: WhiteHouse.gov.

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