Jailbreaking and unlocking our smartphones and tablets may be something that those in civilized countries take for granted, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has the same luxury. Those in the United States for example currently find themselves in a situation where unlocking a smartphone is illegal, as is jailbreaking a tablet. Oddly, jailbreaking a smartphone is not. Who thinks these things up?
Those hoping for a change in the status quo may be out of luck though after WikiLeaks leaked a working draft of a new trade treaty that would leave jailbreaking and unlocking illegal not just in the United States, but also Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, and Mexico. While the treaty does mirror the laws currently in place in the United States, this treaty would make it difficult for those working for a change in the laws to have any meaningful impact on proceedings.
The treaty as it stands currently would prohibit the manufacturing or distribution of devices or services “for the purpose of circumvention of any effective technological measure.” Devices that “have only a limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent any effective technological measure, or are primarily designed, produced, or performed for the purpose of the circumvention of any effective technological measure,” would also be out of the equation.
The treaty is currently being pushed through by the Obama administration, which is trying to use Fast Track procedures which effectively remove Congress’s authority over trade matters. The move is not without its opponents, and with the entire subject set to become highly political there is more at stake here than anyone’s ability to unlock a smartphone so that it can be used on any carrier and not just the one for which it was sold.
Jailbreaking comes with a slightly different issue in that it is seen as a gateway to piracy, especially by those who do not realize what good can come of jailbreaking. This issue could well cloud the matter, which can’t be good for anyone.
Unexpectedly, the White House is staying quiet about the whole thing thus far. But we will update our readers on the matter once we have more information regarding the whole issue at hand.