Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

What is 'unlocking' a cell phone and why is it illegal?

by Take Two®

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A person looks at an iPhone 5 during the opening of a new Apple store on November 15, 2012 in Saint-Herblain, western France. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

As of January 26, it became illegal to unlock your cell phone, meaning that even if you own it outright, you can't alter the device to make it to work on another carrier without risking a fine. 

The rule states that unlocking your phone is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As Molly Wood of CNET says in her article on the subject:

"Specifically, it violates a portion of the law enacted in 2000 that makes it illegal to bypass technology designed to restrict access to a certain product. And that provision has bedeviled consumers, researchers, and lawyers for 12 years -- it's time for it to disappear or be substantially rewritten."

So what's a consumer to do? Wood joins the show to helps is parse through the legal implications of this new rule. 

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