Unlock Codes; Are They Legal?
Breaking something that is intended to be officially used by a legitimate business entity might seem illegal. After all, other cases of “breaking”, such as hacking are considered a criminal offense. But as negative as it sounds, using unlock codes to free a mobile phone from a particular network provider is completely safe from the law’s perspective.
If you don’t believe this, then here are some facts that can prove that unlocking is a completely legal procedure.
The basic fact that each phone has its own unlock code is already a clue that it is completely legal. Designers of the phone model had already initially planned it to be capable of being unlocked in the first place. The rules in keeping the phone locked are only within the restraints presented by the network provider’s business model.
There are many professional unlocking services around the world that are accredited and are considered as official business entities. Some service centers are even large enough to be able to cater to anyone anywhere, regardless of where their clients are located around the globe.
Many written rules about using unlock codes state that it is a completely agreeable procedure as long as the user had already paid the phone’s worth within the subscription program. A good example of this is the network carrier group in countries like Brazil and the United States.
In countries like Austria, there is even no minimum requirement to unlock a phone, and may be done anytime that the user wants to. They only need to pay a specific fee, which is usually determined by the network provider it was previously connected to.
Some countries actually have their unlocking rules the other way. The phones are unlocked by default, and it is entirely up to the user if they want to protect their handheld investment by locking it in a single network provider. Of course, getting it unlocked again is completely within the user’s discretion.
A few regulations given to SIM locking in other countries provide a specific time limit to the phone (usually in a span of months). After the agreed time period, the phone can now be either SIM locked or locked, depending on its initial state before the modification.
There are even incidents in other countries where local network providers sue the network providers that attempt a phone tie-in using a SIM lock. An example of this is when Vodafone previously sued the German T-Mobile branch for “hogging” the iPhone exclusively to them.
As a follow-up to fact no. 3, AT&T even provides unlocking services for their customers, as long as they were able to use the phone with its network service package for at least 90 days. They’d be more than happy to give you the unlock code as long as all of their minimum requirements are met.
If you try to analyze the rules and regulations of subsidized phones the other way, you might even be baffled at the “income diffusion” idea of a SIM lock…
This however might be all about to change, Every 3 years, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is reviewed and updated by the Library of Congress. (In my opinion, it gets updated in favor or whomever pays them off the most and this year, I think AT&T gave them a nice bonus.) In October of 2012, they came up with this BS amendment which basically says unlocking phones will be illegal and gave us a nice 90 day grace period before it went into effect. However, that grace period expired this past Saturday. Read the act in full for yourself:-