• Will The US Congress Criminalize Jailbreaking?

    It sounds like a far fetched scenario, but this weekend on NPR, a panel of guests discussed the growing presence of lobbyists from emerging industries in Washington DC. Among the powerhouse movers and shakers seen to be multiplying at a rapid pace are representatives of the mobile technology and communications industries.

    With the arrival of the iPad and a veritable plethora of tablets to the consumer electronics market in the coming months, an equally large number of potential networking partners who would provide video and publishing content to those devices are increasingly concerned with the prevalence of iPhone (and soon-to-be iPad) jailbreaking. As a result, some are speculating that the mobile industry's lobby will be so substantial by the end of 2010 that congressional support could be gathered to "criminalize jailbreaking."

    While the idea of being punished by a court of law for jailbreaking an iPhone, iPod, or iPad sounds borderline insane, could it actually happen? In the big picture, it would seem highly unlikely that Apple would back such a lobby, given that Apple already maintains that jailbreaking is an "illegal" act. Apple, after all, tells the Copyright Office that jailbreaking represents a violation of copyright laws. "Current jailbreak techniques now in widespread use [utilizes] unauthorized modification to the copyrighted bootloader and OS, resulting in infringement of the copyright in those programs," is Apple's official position.

    The prospect of criminalizing jailbreaking, indeed, seems like a long shot. On the other hand, a new gusto behind the enforcement of current copyright laws could seriously impact the way pirates, hackers, and jailbreakers are potentially "punished." The on-air radio panelists noted that someone [a hacker, jailbreaker, etc.] will need to be "made an example of" to prove that the tech world means business when it comes to laying the smack down on jailbreakers.

    Sabre rattling? Sounds like nothing more to me.
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