Tech Policy Expert Khanna: Legalize Unlocking Mobile Phones

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 07:15 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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Can you hear me now — consumers "shouldn't be arrested" for unlocking their smartphones, says Derek Khanna, a Yale Law visiting fellow.

Consumers should have the right to switch carriers or do whatever they want with their mobile phones, Khanna, who works on tech policy with the Information Society Project at Yale, tells "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

Story continues below video.



"What we're talking about is a free market, that you should be able to do what you want with your own device, that you shouldn't be arrested for unlocking your phone," says Khanna.

Unlocking a phone requires making changes to its software that is owned and copyrighted by the carrier — a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Khanna is leading a national campaign to have Congress reverse the current law that calls for a $500,000 fine and five year in jail if you unlock a phone.

He tells host Steve Malzberg, who owns a BlackBerry, that if he decided to switch cell phone carriers with his BlackBerry, "You could do that, but you probably wouldn't be hosting a radio show anymore. You'd be behind bars for the next five years.

"It's up to the provider if they choose to [arrest you] ...  Many of the phone providers have very particular and complicated and cumbersome rules. Some of them don’t allow you to [unlock] it at all. If you choose to do it on your own device, that is a felony.

"It's a classic case of crony capitalism," Khanna said.

"Also businesses should be able to offer a computer program that would help facilitate you because most people probably don't know how to program to unlock their phone."

Khanna added it would also increase competition among carriers and that would benefit consumers.

See "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

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