Since 2010, smartphone users who want to jailbreak their devices, freeing them from manufacturer constraints, have the legal authority to do so. But that right may soon be flushed down the proverbial toilet, warns the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Luckily, there’s a way to fight back, and even expand the right to jailbreak to tablets and gaming consoles.
Here’s the situation: In 2010, the EFF petitioned the US Copyright Office to establish an exemption in Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) that would allow smartphone owners to jailbreak their devices. This year, that exemption will expire, taking away that right. The EFF is now pushing for the renewal of the smartphone jailbreaking exemption, and asking tablets to be included. In addition, the EFF wants the Copyright Office to include another exemption that would allow users to jailbreak their gaming consoles.
To accomplish this, they need your help. “The Copyright Office needs to hear from people who depend on the ability to jailbreak to write, use, and/or tinker with independent software (from useful apps to essential security fixes) for smartphones, tablets, and game consoles,” writes the EFF on their website.
Those of you who are interested in getting in on some digital activism can submit comments to the Copyright Office at this link. The EFF urges people to give as much detail as possible about why they, personally, support the right to jailbreak. This includes stating which devices you think should be jailbreak-able, what your professional background is (if applicable), and anything else that you believe might help the cause.
All comments must be submitted to the Copyright Office no later than February 10, at 5pm ET. The EFF asks that you email them a copy of your letter, as well, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jailbreaking, especially among Apple iOS device users, is becoming an increasingly popular option for users who want the ability to do more with their device, things like use un-approved apps, or customize the user interface, among other options.
The downside is that jailbreaking can void the warranty on the handset. But this deterrent apparently isn’t having much impact. Last Friday, hacker collective Greenpois0n released the first untethered jailbreak from iPhone 4S and iPad 2, which use the hard-to-crack A5 processor. Since that time, nearly a million people have jailbroken their Apple devices.