Yes, it is now illegal for users to unlock mobile phones to use on another network and most of us are not too happy about it. The good thing is the change in legal status, a direct result of the Library Of Congress ruling we told you about in October, will probably not affect too many of us. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) still protects our right to unlock the bootloader but it stripped away our ability to lawfully unlock a cell phone purchased from a carrier even after we’ve fulfilled our contractual obligation.
For example, a phone purchased from AT&T cannot legally be unlocked by the user (or third party) to be used on T-Mobile. The carrier, on the other hand, faces no new restrictions and in many cases will unlock devices of customers in good standing. Phones on Verizon & Sprint are unaffected since they are CDMA networks with handsets that aren’t really locked the same way GSM phones are locked. Purchase an unlocked phone, like the Nexus 4, and this becomes a non-issue.
The latest ruling in the ever complicated Digital Millennium Copyright Act continues to list smartphones as exempt from the rules prohibiting rooting and Jailbraking as it did in 2010. Good news if you’re waiting for the Nexus 4, not so good if you’re waiting for the Nexus 10; tablets are not included in the exceptions. The Library Of Congress listed five categories of exemptions which will go into effect on October 28, 2012 and will be valid for three years.
The Library of Congress found the definition of “tablet” to be too broad. The ruling determined “the record lacked a sufficient basis to develop an appropriate definition for the ‘tablet’ category of devices, a necessary predicate to extending the exemption beyond smartphones.” They cited “an e-book reading device might be considered a ‘tablet,’ as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer.”
Tim Bray posted an article on the Android Developers Blog which was written by Nick Kralevich, an engineer on the Android Security Team. Kralevich seems to make an argument that rooting your device is in fact a form of openness. A commenter on the blog attempted to point to the fact that the only reason users are able to root their phones is because of the lack of sufficient security by the Android team. Kralevich disagrees:
“Legitimately gaining root access to your device is a far cry from most rooting exploits. Traditional rooting attacks are typically performed by exploiting an unpatched security hole on the device. Rooting is not a feature of a device; rather, it is the active exploitation of a known security hole”.
Kralevich goes on to say “Android has a strong security strategy, backed by a solid implementation”. He reiterates the features set in place so applications do not conflict with one another, eliminating possible malicious attacks. Furthermore, he states:
“And yes, we aggressively fix known security holes, including those that can be used for rooting”
Kralevich hopes that in the near future carriers, manufacturers, developers and security teams can just all get along. We hope so too. He ends his thought with a glimpse of Utopia:
“It’s possible to design unlocking techniques that protect the integrity of the mobile network, the rights of content providers, and the rights of application developers, while at the same time giving users choice”
After all, isn’t that what Android is all about? Giving the user choice? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.
[via Android Developers Blog]
With the influx of people wanting to give Android a go (even Steve Wozniak!), there’s been one lack in the whole “Android on your iPhone” flurry: video! Fortunately for all of us, the guys over at Lifehacker have recorded a video tutorial of not only how to get Android on your iPhone, but also of the OS running on the device. In viewing the video, you’ll probably notice that the interface is pretty laggy in general, but you have to remember how much hacking and modding was required to get this done. So check out the video after the break, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!
You may have heard that yesterday, the Library of Congress made a few exceptions concerning the legality of jailbreaking or rooting your handest. CTIA, however, would like to send you a friendly reminder about why there was so much controversy over the subject in the first place. According to CTIA:
Wireless carriers and handset makers go to great lengths to protect their customer’s privacy by blocking spam, filtering for viruses, and testing software that is sold through their portals. Unfortunately, ‘jailbreaking,’ or other modifications to a wireless phone’s operating system, increases a consumer’s risk for malware, spyware and other vulnerabilities.
In other words, before you go all root-happy, make sure you know what you’re doing. Opening up the filesystem of your handset, while extremely beneficial, does have it’s risks. We’re not discouraging, we’re simply saying that you should be sure to do your research before you go on an adventure out of userland.
The Library of Congress has officially made special exemptions for the act of rooting (Android, WebOS) and jailbreaking (iOS), and rules that would keep you from doing so from the DMCA will not apply. In other words, grab you SDK’s and USB cables, because it’s time to rejoice. According to the announcement:
Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.
While this will not keep the device manufacturers from locking down their devices as best they can to keep you out of the root file structure of your device, it does mean that you won’t be getting any knocks on your door from black suits and sunglasses asking if you can run an “su” command on your phone.
Check out the full statement below, and let us know what you think in the comments!