U.S. Set to Outlaw Smartphone Unlocking, Tablet Jailbreaking: Will This Stop You from ‘Freeing’ Your Gadget?

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By Erik Pineda | January 25, 2013 1:46 PM EST

U.S. federal regulations will soon prohibit the 'unlocking' of mobile devices without the expressed permission of service providers. The new rule exempts 'jailbreaking' of smartphones, a popular hobby among advance gadget owners.

Pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the U.S. government will outlaw phone unlocking beginning Jan 26, according to reports by TechNewsDaily. The report highlighted too that jailbreaking remains a legal activity but only on smartphone.

The new law now prevents unauthorised tinkering of tablets sold and distributed in the United States. However, the rule applies for devices governed by telcos' exclusive contracts, most of which expire after two years.

Presumably after the lock-in period, gadget owners can do as they please. In fact, AT&T offers services that unlock handsets it issued to subscribers that are labelled as rolled off devices.

It looks like that the new policy favours telecommunication firms, which naturally would want to block rivals from the handsets they subsidised prior to release. But by doing so, they inadvertently limit that users can discover through their devices. It's a good thing that circumvents always abound, hardcore gadget users would say.

Phone users would always want to take full control of the gadget they paid for, thus the popularity of jailbreaking on iPhones and rooting on Android devices. The sentiment, arguably, is more prominent in the Apple universe, due mainly to the tech giant's infamous proclivity to regulate everything within its sphere.

However, with jailbreaking always an option the excitement is not loss as iPhone owners were provided alternative means to enjoy their handsets beyond the dictates of Apple.

The same is true with Android though Google is not exactly discouraging modifications of Android-powered smartphones and tablets. But even with the hands-off attitude of the internet giant, many Android users jump into the rooting bandwagon to relish the joy Superuser privileges over their devices.

So despite these fresh restrictions, experts believe that unlocking, jailbreaking and rooting of devices will remain part of the whole game tech plan regardless if authorities would approve or not.

Firms actually acknowledge that consumers want to decide how they would use products that they buy. BGR noted that Verizon sells the iPhone 5 unlocked as many retailers and telcos around the world do.

Perhaps, the strongest affirmation of this right comes from Google by way of the popular Nexus 4. Not only that the smartphone offers a great buy for delivering powerful specs without asking too much but it also provides limitless possibilities.

Obviously, consumers appreciate the gesture. They scamper to get hold of the hard-to-get Android handset.

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