Welcome to 2013: It Is Now a Crime to Unlock Your Smartphone

This is exactly the sort of arbitrary legislation that was used to punish Aaron Swartz and what ultimately led to his suicide.  I have many close friends whose parents fled the USSR in the second half of the 20th Century and all of them have told me that this is exactly what the Soviets did in order to make everyone a criminal by default. That way the government can then go after anyone they don’t like at any time.  This is also a great time to read up on the post I wrote recently titled A Broken Justice System: “Most Americans Commit About Three Felonies a Day”.

Our country is becoming more of a totalitarian state by the day.  From The Atlantic:

ADVISORY

BY DECREE OF THE LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS

IT SHALL HENCEFORCE BE ORDERED THAT AMERICANS SHALL NOT UNLOCK THEIR OWN SMARTPHONES.

PENALTY: In some situations, first time offenders may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for five years, or both. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $1,000,000, imprisonment for up to ten years, or both.*

That’s right, starting this weekend it is illegal to unlock new phones to make them available on other carriers.

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.

But there is another matter of critical importance: 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.

And if you thought this was bad, provisions of the DMCA relating to anti-circumvention are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Treaty — and the United States is the party asking for it as part of the negotiations. Placing it in the treaty will enact our dysfunctional system on an international level in countries that don’t want it, and it will “re-codify” the DMCA in an international treaty making it significantly more difficult to revise as necessary. Copyright laws are domestic laws and they need to be flexible enough to adjust accordingly to not inhibit new innovation.

Just another reason to be very concerned with the TPP.  Land of the free.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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16 Comments

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  1. DUDE are you a libritarian or not? now i will grant you that the librarian of congress has no buisness even geting involved in a civil matter BUT 1)nobody is required to own a smart phone and 2) those who do wish to own one are not required to buy a locked version.
    most people who opt for such phones do so to get a “deal” on the “locked” phone wich the company is “selling” at a loss with the intent to make up the difrence in the available “plans” that the phone is “locked to” now is this a “scam” yes but any one who cant see this a mile away NEEDS to be locked up for there own protection NOT made out to be folk heros for defrauding a scam!

    to me the net result of all this will be as always market driven with those who wish to own an “open” phone now simply having to PAY for one what is needed here is a more marketing of unlocked phones and educating the public further as to the truth and meaning of “there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    ps i class the hacktivisim against sony play station as difrent in that there is no “unlocked” version available and sonys locking of the system was underhanded and unreasonable! im just glad i found out about it prior to buying one but had i found out after I would have simply taken it back and said FOAD when I buy somthing I own it you just lost a long time customer ………….. market forces are ALL that are alowed once you swear off agression Mr liberty mike how is violating an agreement freely entered in to not “agression”?

    • Michael Krieger

      I think my point was crystal clear. The potential punishment does not fit the crime and I am pointing out the hypocrisy in charging people with decades in prison because the government doesn’t like those people, which things like this allow. If they said it is illegal with a maximum fine of 2x the cost of the phone, then fine. I think somehow you missed the entire point of the post. Mike

    • I have no idea what you’re talking about.

      You write that a person who unlocks their phone “NEEDS to be locked up for there own protection NOT made out to be folk heros for defrauding a scam!”
      That makes no sense whatsoever. When you BUY a phone, is it yours or is it the property of the company? As far as I know, you will get a deal on a phone IF and only IF you sign a contract with a company. Once that contract is over, you should be able to do with the phone as you please.

      You also write that we need to be “educating the public further as to the truth and meaning of “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” What “free lunch” are you talking about. You are REQUIRED to sign a contract (1,2,3 year) IN ORDER to get a deal on a phone. This is not a free lunch.

      You also ask “how is violating an agreement freely entered in to not ‘agression’?” There is no violation of the agreement after the contract expires.

      You keep contradicting yourself in your comments and that doesn’t give you very much credibility.

    • DUDE! Clearly you were educated at government school; the center for dumbing down of citizens. Speaking and writing in coherent English is essential to getting one’s point across.

      Clearly, Mike was trying to make the point that the government is busy creating crimes that almost any hapless person can commit without even realizing it. These crimes can be used to punish people that the government wants to silence.

      For example, the government could decree that writing in incoherent English is a crime punishable by life in prison. Then if government decides that it does not like your opinions or actions, it will charge you with the crime of illiteracy and dispose of you. Very scary!

  2. Huh? Who elected the “Librarian of Congress”? I didn’t even know we had one. What’s next, summer reading assignments?

  3. Liberty is a muscle that must be exercised regularly. These inane laws and regulations simply provide the stimulus for us to resist and grow as liberty-minded folk.

  4. As a freely born citizen, I declare that is unconstitutional for any librarian to make any decrees related to anything other than books and documents stored in and loaned from the specific library by whom that librarian is employed. Any such violating decree shall be punished by immediate dismissal from that employment and also subject to a fine of $100 to everyone who was affected by the unauthorized decree made by the librarian. etc., etc.
    This declaration shall be in effect on the second day after it has been published on-line or in any newspaper in the United States.

  5. uglu american \
    You cannt be serious. No one has a “need” to own a smart phone, so any govt bureaucrat should be able to make what ever rule (as law) he wants? And no libertarian should object to that? Free citizens should – and do – have the right and do what they please. The only legitimate limits to human freedom are to refrain from force, coersion, or fraud. Wipe the koolaid stains off your lips.

  6. Why not have this penalty for using a gun in the commission of a crime? Including FULL sentencing, no parole or early release.

    • “FULL sentencing, no parole or early release.”

      Are you kidding? Putting people in prison, let alone with no chance of parole would cost money that politicians may not be able to divert to their home-boys.

  7. The Library of Congress created this law? Huh? Its’ bad enough that such a ludicrous law was created by administrative fiat, but how in God’s name do cell phones come under the purview of the Library of Congress?

  8. Are all of you people really buying this story? this guy has to be laughing his ass off! the only decree from congress comes from that body, not the mens library!

  9. Maybe the US is Becoming the USSR (United States of Socialist Repression)?

  10. Mike, thanks for the heads up. But remember “YOU CANT FIX STUPID” so dont waste your typing and english skills.

  11. Well im not too knowledgeable on the actual meaning of the law, but based on comments its obvious that noones really gotta firm graspe on the thing as a whole… SO i see this an it being illegat to have, say, and AT&T smartphone, and unlocking it from that carrier so you can use it with, say, virgin mobile. Now i can see how this really is stealing a product frm a company, and i can see how they would want to protect it. pirating a video is 200,000 dollars and thats unreasonable sooo.. it seems to fit in with what we got going right now.

    Plus i converted my Xbox into a computer… i dont see how thats not illegal, same basic thing, lol

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