A temporary waiver has ended and it is now illegal to unlock a mobile phone to work on another mobile network in the United States – with potential for a fine of up to $500,000 and five years in jail for infringers.
The move came after the Librarian of Congress issued an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which could have been interpreted as making unlocking of phones as illegal if it is done without the permission of the original phone network.
It had been expected that a formal policy would be drafted in the subsequent three months, but the waiver expired over the weekend, and restored the criminal penalties unchanged.
A petition has been submitted to the White House calling for the law to be overturned.
Removing the SIM-lock imposed by the mobile network is different from Jail-Breaking, which is the removal of software locks to permit third-party software to be used on the phone. That remains illegal.