The gadgets that you paid for control you, not the other way around. The Atlantic on the most ridiculous law of 2013:
Starting this weekend it is illegal to unlock new phones to make them available on other carriers. Seriously: It’s embarrassing and unacceptable that we are at the mercy of prosecutorial and judicial discretion to avoid the implementation of draconian laws that could implicate average Americans in a crime subject to up to a $500,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
When did we decide that we wanted a law that could make unlocking your smartphone a criminal offense? The answer is that we never really decided. Instead, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998 to outlaw technologies that bypass copyright protections. In practice it has terrible, and widely acknowledged, negative consequences that affect consumers and new innovation. The DMCA leaves it up to the Librarian of Congress (LOC) to issue exemptions from the law, exceptions that were recognized to be necessary given the broad language of the statute.
After Saturday it will be illegal to unlock a new smartphone, thereby allowing it to switch carriers. This is a result of the exception to the DMCA lapsing. It was not a mistake, but rather an intentional choice by the Librarian of Congress, that this was no longer fair use and acceptable.
Laws that can place people in jail should be passed by Congress, not by the decree of the Librarian of Congress. We have no way to hold the Librarian of Congress accountable for wildly unfair laws. There are still plenty of crazy laws passed by elected officials, but at least we can then vote them out of office.
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