Q & Answers
Q & Answers: Unlocking Your Smartphone is Now Illegal (And That’s Stupid)
As of last weekend, it is illegal to unlock your smartphone? Good call or bad call?
This is absolutely, ridiculously stupid. What I do with the device that I own, that belongs me, shouldn’t matter. If I want to unlock it, jailbreak it or do anything else to it, I should be able to. Granted, I say this as someone who has never owned an unlocked smartphone (and has never had any plans to go down that route), but the thought of it being completely and totally illegal seems silly to me.
Do you think this will stem the rise of phone hacking or just make it worse?
I don’t know much about the details of this law, so I’m not entirely sure who passed it and why it was passed, but we all know what this is: the influence of big, huge massive money on politicians. That’s all this is. This is a few telecom companies getting upset that people are circumventing whatever ecosystem they’ve created and they’re paying politicians to help them gain control again. That’s what this is all about. This has probably been in development for months, if not years, and it’s just now finally getting through.
Where do you strike the balance between the wild west and a controlled smartphone ecosystem?
I think the way they had it before was fine! Especially if you’re talking about the Apple ecosystem. People may have been jailbreaking phones, but I don’t that many people were jailbreaking phones. That’s what makes this all so baffling and interesting to me. Look at Google, which allows users to do pretty much whatever they want to do with the Android operating system. Again, I don’t see what the benefit is there. The number of people who actually jailbreak their phones is extremely low, especially with Apple devices, where the vast majority of users leave their systems as is. As a developer who makes software, I know that people may hack their phones to steal software, but hacking your phone creates many unexpected consequences. It can make your phone run buggy and slow and often prevents you from getting the newest updates for your operating system. In short: only a select number of people are willing to do this to their phones and therefore, only a select number of people are going to pirate things after jailbreaking their phones. This is why I don’t understand this law. People who are hacking their phones and stealing software are people who never would’ve bought that software in the first place. They don’t have the mentality to buy software — they only have the mentality to steal software. Even if unlocking your phone is illegal, it’s not going to stop anyone.
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