Opinion: New ban on unlocking smartphones is ridiculous, unjust

Kevin Griffin

In a stunning display of contempt for the American people, the Librarian of Congress enacted a new law that took effect Jan. 26: a federal crime to unlock any new smartphone. 

A smartphone is “unlocked” if network restrictions have been removed from it and it can be used with any other networks with compatible wireless standards.

It’s not difficult to do, and some providers encourage customers to bring unlocked phones to their network. Unlocking isn’t the same as “jailbreaking,” which isn’t affected by the new legislation, according to TechNewsDaily.

This law wouldn’t make unlocked smartphones illegal, just the act of unlocking them by private citizens. Some smartphones are sold already unlocked, and some providers will unlock the phone themselves.

It also wouldn’t apply to any phones purchased prior to 2013.

But if you take your brand new smartphone and unlock it yourself, you’re in a heap of trouble.

The Atlantic reports the penalties that go with this new law are that first offenders may be sentenced with a  $500,000 fine or five years in jail. Repeat offenders can get up to $1 million fine or 10 years.

That people could be sent to jail for five years for simply unlocking a smartphone is unjust in the extreme. These ridiculous laws are essentially in place to protect corporate interests at the expense of freedom and justice.

And that is unacceptable.

Would anyone ever think that it was just and moral to send some teenager to jail for five years because he unlocked his smartphone? Personally, I find that crazy.

Both liberals and conservatives should be up in arms over this law. It is both an example of corporations screwing over the little guy and also government power and regulation run amok. This is my final plea to both citizens and politicians: can we not put aside our partisan differences in order to rid the country of silly and unnecessary laws like this one?

Vashaw, a sophomore mathematics and creative writing major, is an opinion writer.