Unlocking cell phones becomes illegal

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Starting Saturday, Jan. 26, it will be illegal to unlock your cell phone to access different networks.

A new law bans the practice of unlocking phones based on copyright infringement. Advocacy groups question the validity of the law and may challenge it in court.

Unlocking a phone means removing the security feature that prevents the phone from being used on only one carrier’s network and using multiple networks. The feature is used frequently by people who do a lot of international traveling.

Consumers will still be able to buy unlocked phones that are exempt from the law, but they will not be allowed to change existing cell phones.

The new law is based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a federal anti-hacking law.

The Librarian of Congress decided In October of 2012, that personally unlocking phones would no longer be allowed.

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