Late yesterday afternoon a Federal court ordered Apple to assist the FBI in their investigation into the San Bernardino shootings by unlocking the iPhone belonging to the shooters. In response, this morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook released a public statement in which Apple refuses to comply, explaining the reasons that even if Apple can comply with the order, they will refuse to do so.
Back in February we told you that it had just become illegal, on a Federal (i.e national) level, to unlock a cell phone – yours or anyone else’s. This was owing to the Library of Congress’ inaction, specifically their failing to renew an exemption to the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). The exemption is what made it legal to unlock a cell phone despite that otherwise the DMCA would prohibit it. Not only that, but starting next year, you could go to prison for five years for unlocking a cell phone without the carrier’s permission. Now President Obama is leaning on the FCC to make unlocking your cell phone legal.
Believe it or not, as of Saturday, 2/2/13, it became illegal to unlock your cell phone. Or to unlock anybody else’s cell phone. The failure by the LIbrary of Congress to renew an unlocking exemption to the DMCA means that you must seek permission from the carrier or phone manufacturer before you can unlock your cell phone. If you don’t? You can face prison time. Just ask Sina Khanifar, who in fact was threatened with up to 5 years in prison. His crime? Unlocking his Motorola Razr.