Italian phone carriers have phone-unlockers arrested

It looks like the Italian mobile phone cartels are using their muscle to bust people who unlock mobile phones. You can buy this service on practically every corner in Europe. My own phone, which came from Orange, is unlocked so that I can use it with my T-Mobile SIM while I'm in the USA.

There are dimwitted apologists for this who say that you agree not to unlock your phone when you get it at a discount from the carriers: I've never made any such agreement, nor would I. I read my service contract pretty carefully and it breathes not a word of this alleged agreement.

Closely related is the even dimmer argument that mobile carriers who didn't use locks would have to charge more for their phones — an argument in pure defiance of the actual facts on the ground: everyone who wants to unlock a phone can, and yet the mobile carriers still turn a profit while giving out discounted phones in connections with set plans.

Set plans with high cancellation fees are what make the carriers their fortune, not chickenshit SIM-locks that can be broken with a little judicious googling or by paying the corner shop a fiver.

Marco, reporting from Italy, sez, "30 people were charged in 11 regions by H3G company for unlocking handsets. Search warrants were issued, criminal charges: unlawful access to informatic systems, detention and transmission of illegal codes. In March the company prosecuted Vodafone Omnitel on unfair competition charges: Vodafone shops were actually unlocking 3G phones and encouraging operator sitch. In January three people were charged, under the same circumstances, for copyright infringement and 'evasione fiscale'. At present it's still not clear if phone unlocking is unlawful."


(Thanks, Marco!)