Is unlocking an iPhone illegal in the UK?

Discussion in 'Jailbreaks and iOS Hacks' started by sk8mash, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. sk8mash macrumors 6502a

    sk8mash

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    #1
    I googled it and most people seem to think its not, but I am just asking because the other day I went into O2 and bought an iPhone, no questioned asked, but had to pay by credit card.

    Today I went to a different O2 shop to buy another iPhone. They once again wouldn't let me pay by cash, so I paid by card, a different one than before. this time though, the guy asked me all sorts of questions, including my address, phone number, post code, email address, and who the phone would be registered to. I was planning on selling it on eBay, so I said it was a gift for a friend.

    Am I doing anything naughty? I haven't unwrapped the second iPhone yet, so I could just return it.

    Thanks.
     
  2. spinstorm macrumors 65816

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    #2
    No you haven't done anything naughty.

    They just want to know if the cheaper iPhones mean more contracts.

    Is it illegal? I don't know but it doesn't matter as no one will know - the worst case scenario is you break your phone and O2/Apple won't give you a warranty.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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  4. sk8mash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sk8mash

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    #4
    So it seems like it isn't legal...but it just seems weird that o2 sell you the phone expecting you to start a contract with them, but will they be able to tell if you don't?
     
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #5
    I guess, in principle, if you buy the phone in a way which identifies you to the seller, you may be traceable in a personal way (i.e. O2 already knows how many phones are not activated, because they know how many are sold and how many are activated; however, if you identify yourself at PoS), you could possibly be traced back to the phone. But I would consider that scenario pretty unlikely.

    In the US, for comparison purposes, I guess, the situation as it's generally accepted (but not legally tested to date) to be is that it's:

    - Legal for a user to unlock a phone in order to use it on a competitor network (this is explicit)
    - Not necessarily legal to create or sell unlocking software (the law is silent on this issue, but the DMCA
    - Also not necessarily (and slightly less likely to be) legal to create or sell software that circumvents mechanisms to prevent modification of the phone in other ways (e.g. jailbreaking). This point is questionable, since the DMCA primarily addresses circumventing copy protection or DRM, and jailbreaking does not do this.

    The latter two really haven't been tested adequately legally. There is no explicit waiver to the DMCA here that allows someone to create this software, even though its usage is covered by an explicit exemption. So there are a lot of grey areas.

    But those areas are definitely grey, unlike, say, the situation with Napster and Limewire, where what is being done clearly fulfills neither the spirit nor the letter of the law in any imaginable way.

    Disclaimer: All of this is speculative....
     
  6. sk8mash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sk8mash

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    #6
    oh right, so no one really knows...?

    I guess if I was ever chased up for not having a contract, I could just say i haven't activated them yet...

    Has anyone ever been prosecuted by O2 for buying a contract phone, then not fulfilling the contract?
     
  7. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #7
    If you have not activated via iTunes, you have not entered into any contract with O2. What could anyone prosecute you with?

    All you have is the (theoretically useless) hardware purchased from Apple and sold through a dealer. Sounds like a fulfilled purchase contract to me, as long as your credit card issuer honours the amount charged.
     
  8. sk8mash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sk8mash

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    #8
    Good point thanks :) Now I feel happier about my iPhone purchase! Btw I love it! :)
     
  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #9
    Yeah. :) There's just something about it that makes you happy. Probably delivers drugs via aerosol format. :D
     
  10. Niiro13 macrumors 68000

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    #10
    It still is unclear whether it is legal in the United Kingdom.

    We all know that it's legal in the United States due to the DMCA...but what about other countries?
     
  11. iSamurai macrumors 65816

    iSamurai

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    #11
    Keep your phone mate.

    First of all, they won't take you to court or to the nearest police station because they've just discovered that you're not using O2 (even though you breathe it) on your iPhone. They won't even confiscate your phone, don't worry :p

    Secondly if they decided to void your warranty by saying that you have breached the terms and conditions, you take them to court by asking you all personal details as mentioned above for offending/intruding your privacy and personal data. In the UK there's some kinda personal information act rectified in 1998. :D Plus, it's your own iPhone, you can do anything you like to it. It's up to you if you want to unlock your iPhone or not, like it' up to you if you want to shower in bottled water instead of drinking it. It's a free country and it's a democratic society. Bring in the Bills of Rights and whatever nonsense that you thought were useless.

    I suggest you return the phone and purchase another one at a different store. Tell them that they are being rude and "spying" on you by collecting your personal data and they might use the information for marketing purposes or sending it to third parties without your permission. Also mention that you are "bitterly disappointed" by the people who served you last time and that you "were not brought up with a background like this to treat people". They will eat the iPhone and choke up your money. However, you just gotta have experience to do this :)

    So to sum things up, if you want to keep your warranty, do a restore and if you've modified stuff like the bootloader you gotta change it back to the original before sending it in for repairs. And, they won't arrest you for not staying with O2. Lastly, customers are always right.

    For me, I would return the phone, because the new version will be out by June/July. So it's not worth it for me...

    P.S. This article was written in a tongue-in-cheek style. So yeah... do what you think it's best :)
     
  12. Niiro13 macrumors 68000

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    #12
    Unlocking modifies baseband which survives restore...lol. You'd have to relock the baseband.



    Anyway, you can't really take them to court for warranty. Even though you might win, the court cannot FORCE Apple to service your iPhone.

    Besides, when you buy the iPhone, you're already agreeing to the terms. Any violation of the terms, while they can't take you to court, can void the warranty (as stated in the terms which you agreed to upon buying the iPhone).

    It's like if you opened the iPhone and added a CMDA radio to it...you can't take Apple to court and FORCE them to repair it.
     
  13. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #13
    Oooh, if you don't take out the contract that may be illegal, but if it isn't required to get the phone and leave the shop I don't think thats enforceable as you haven't agreed to the contract.

    Yes you can, its probably breaking the Sale of Goods Act. But you may be right on this as you are "modifying" it.

    They essentially can, they could ban Apple from doing business in the UK if needed.
     
  14. drpellypo macrumors 6502

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    #14
    apple will honour your warranty whether you activate it or not. That's in their own t&c. In terms of legality, if the phone was subsidised then I may side with 02, but let us not forget, even with discounts, its still a lot of money.
     
  15. spinstorm macrumors 65816

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    #15
    This is the most pointless conversation ever...

    People unlock phones all the time even in the UK.

    O2 are none the wiser and any other network don't care if your using an iPhone as they are getting your money.

    So it really doesn't make any difference.

    I would be more worried about the music your downloading without paying than the fact you unlocked your iphone!
     
  16. sk8mash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sk8mash

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    #16
    All good points guys, thanks!

    When I asked the guy why he wanted all my personal details he said it was because "O2 have a strict policy on how many iPhones can be purchased per person" All the information I gave them was printed on my receipt, whereas there was nothing on the receipt at the shop which didn't ask for any personal info. its just the fact that they know that I bought the phone and everything about me. Just made me think...
     
  17. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #17
    Nope, the goverment are not going to spy on the internet connectins until April 2009, so a lot of music downloading to come ;)

    Unlocking a phone is not illegal, when you buy the phone you have no obligation to use it with O2, because you havent done the contract yet, you do the contract on iTunes when you activate it, and as you are unlocking it you wont be doing that, will you?

    If unlocking phones was illegal, all the shops and stalls with huge "MOBILE PHONE UNLOCKING" signs will have been closed down a long time ago...
     
  18. sk8mash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sk8mash

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    #18
    Yeah, but the iPhone feels a little different because its the only contract phone that you can walk into a shop and buy without a contract.
     
  19. Nic10 macrumors newbie

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    #19
    couldnt o2 decide to block the IMEI of phones not activated?
     
  20. sk8mash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sk8mash

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    #20
    I dont think they could, because whos to say that you havnt taken advantage of the low iphone price, but dont want to activate it for two years because you want to wait for your contract to run out?
     
  21. senorFunkyPants macrumors 6502

    senorFunkyPants

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    #21
    Nope...that would then make the phone "not fit for the purpose for which it was sold" and contrary to the Sale of Goods act. They would then be liable for replacing the iphone for one that wasn't blocked.
     
  22. iSamurai macrumors 65816

    iSamurai

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    #22
    What!? Is this implemented in the UK? When and any details I can read ...iSamurai suddenly freaks out... na, just joking.

    Block!? Are you kidding me? Because if they block me, I'll block them from doing business in court for obstructing, hindering my rights to use a product i purchased rightfully. Therefore this is an act of obscurity and is an offence to my rights of basic living. I will, not be tolerating such irresponsible decision. Oh well, I guess O2 will just lose the court case and I'll get a crate of iPhones for compensation ;) You will also see some mass action from iPhone users for tampering their will of choosing which carrier they want and this is therefore monopolistic.
     
  23. jamesforsith macrumors newbie

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    Apr 20, 2008
    #23
    I am nost sure about the UK, but, I found the following website that discussed the legality in the UK.
    http://www.iphonefreestyler.com/?page_id=11

    It specifically says:
    Quite interesting.

    JF
     
  24. Nic10 macrumors newbie

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    #24
    I'm not so sure because the device is sold locked. So O2 could say that unactivated devices are not being used so blocking those IMEIs would have no impact on people until they activate. At the time of activation the block could be lifted. Everyone with hacked phones would have expensive ipod touches. I imagine this would be similar to how stolen phones are blocked based on the IMEI.

    I bought one that had a visibly faulty screen. So I relocked it using bootneuter and restored it to apple's 1.1.4. I returned to the shop and they replaced it. However they took my name and address for the exchange.

    Will I be getting a call in a few months asking why I haven't activated?
     
  25. Nic10 macrumors newbie

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    #25
    This doesn't make sense.

    If you haven't activated it then there is no contract. The clock starts ticking once you activate and sign up.
     

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