Will Rooting Your Smartphone Soon Be Illegal? Not If We Can Stop It!


The Android modding community is a great one all made possible by the tireless efforts of developers who seek to further enrich the Android experience by rooting and modding the software on their smartphones. Well, that whole ecosystem may soon be threatened with the expiration of the jailbreaking (and rooting) exemption law granted by the U.S. Copyright Office to help protect those of us who chose to modify the software on our devices from legal threats. Without that law, users who jailbreak or root their devices could face criminal charges — sounds like a crazy, post-apocalyptic future, right?

Well, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who filed for the original jailbreaking/rooting exemption 3 years ago) is on our side and is looking for supporters to help renew the law and keep hackers and modders out of our country’s prison system. It doesn’t just stop at smartphones either. The EFF is also pushing for tablets and video game consoles to be included in the exemption. Media relations director and digital right analyst for the EFF, Rebecca Jeschke had this to say,

“The law was never intended to limit legal activity with a device that was legally bought. It’s not good policy for consumers. The idea that you might face criminal charges because you altered your own property is totally unfair. The goal here is to make the law really clear.”

Probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise but Apple fought against the exemption (surprise, surprise) back when it was introduced in 2010 and it’s iOS users that really have something to worry about with Apple’s trigger happy legal team always on the hunt. Just when you thought you could put down you pitchforks in protest of SOPA, a new cause is born. You can help by signing the petition at jailbreakingisnotacrime.org

Thanks, Marshall!

[Via Electronic Frontier Foundation]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. No it wont

  2. Rooting your phone should be mandatory, really.

  3. this will never happen. this isn’t just about altering a phone’s software anymore – this issue delves into freedom of speech.

    car makers don’t sue their customers for replacing parts in a car, and i don’t see this much differently.

    1. Well, when it comes to altering or messing around with software (not hardware) that’s where things get finicky. 

      A few years back, Cyanogen Mod actually came under fire from Google who didn’t like them messing around with their Google apps. Eventually, a workaround was released and the reason why people actually have to flash Gapps separately on AOSP ROMs…

      1. That is a very misleading comparison.  The problem people ran in to with Google was that they were redistributing them without a license or permission from Google.  This is pretty clearly illegal, and not related to the law discussed here at all.

        1. Thank you, I couldnt have said it better myself.

    2. Handsets and tablets are the wave of the future. Everything is moving that direction, CARRIER IQ is a perfect example of the problem, its all about control. I think with the advent of instantaneous text,web feeds,free thinking/data is pushing the limits of free speech to a whole new level. This has the hierarchy quaking in their boots.

      1. Carrier IQ proved the only way to really feel protected was removing it ourselves. All the carriers was draging their feet even when consumers found out what it was and vocally asked to get it removed. Only after the Feds got involved did they take swift action.

  4. Bull-doody!

  5. wow, i really fucking hate this world sometimes… if this were ever considered “illegal” and i was threatened with any form of punishment for touching what i own i would welcome the publicity. the fact that apple would even CONSIDER rooting to be illegal is just pure stupidity… sure they won’t like it but damn, illegal? come on.

    i would buy an iphone, ipad, and ipod just to root them so i could call apple and tell them i rooted it lol

    1. protest: you’re doing it wrong.

      in America you don’t accomplish anything by paying the company you’re trying to protest – because by then it’s too late.

      1. i wouldn’t really do it as a protest but more as a FUCK YOU just to see there tops boil haha, they get so anal about control you’d think they were based in fucking north korea or something.

        Man fuck off apple if people jailbreak there devices, void there waranty and move on, find a way to determine jailbroken phones from stock and don’t allow the app store or any “services” on jailbroken apps. that seems plenty fair to me

  6. I do not like the URL…

      1. URL is referring to iPhone…

  7. I’m screwed…

  8. I could’ve sworn Android was open source. How can they make it illegal to change and modify the code?
    Isn’t that the entire point of it beeing open source? o_O

    1. This has nothing to do with the Android OS this are the operators that force manufactuers to implement locked bootloaders etc.

  9. I don’t get it… Games are modded all the time as well is that gonna be illegal as well? soon modifying your car is gonna be illegal altogether as well. Yay for stupid laws! Makes you want to break them

  10. “The idea that you might face criminal charges because you altered your own property is totally unfair.”


  11. this is like you bought a condom, but you are not allow to use it….

  12. There seems to be a million things to keep our pitchforks up: ACTA, TPT, Canada SOPA, Ireland SOPA, and that doesn’t even address the problems with our elected official.

    I will riot if they ever pry ROOT from my hands.

    1. One moron is going to give Italy a SOPA-like law, did you know? He’s a tard, like all his party companions (ever heard of “Lega Nord”?).
      EU already said it will halt every law which goes in the direction of a lesser freedom on Internet. That said, EU citizens should be OK in this matter – even if I don’t trust those men sitting in the Parliament in Rome…

  13. deleted

    1. you can discuss rooting in the forums… wtf are you smoking, there is a ROOTING SECTION for every phone. what you can’t discuss is how to get free apps and crap like that

      1. You most certainly can discuss rooting, tethering, stealing apps, how to try to rip-off the insurance companies for a new phone, etc. in the forums, just not Phandroid’s forums (androidforums). They don’t allow people to discuss tethering or sideloading stolen apps there for the very understandable reason that it’s an ad-supported website – it’s really hard to get advertisers for a forum where people discuss how to steal apps, tether phones without paying said companies, etc.
        EDIT: Initial post came off as harsh and brought attention to something that shouldn’t have been pointed out, especially after the blog was edited. My apologies.

  14. First that sofa $hit now this load of crap?! IM GOING BACK TO BRITAIN B1TCH.-_-

  15. I think it shouldnt be illegal because we bought the phone so we have every right to do what we want with it

  16. First that sofa $hit now this load of crap?! IM GOING BACK TO BRITAIN B1TCH.-_-

  17. This pitchfork has been useful as of late.

  18. How about this.

    It’s my fucking phone that I paid for so I can do whatever I want with it.

    The carriers are the SERVICE PROVIDERS!

  19. They can pry my ROOTED Droid out of my dead cold hand! ( cause the other hand will be holding an AR-15)

  20. Wow, just yesterday I rember Apple crying because this got passed. The good news is that there are more smartphone users now.

    Hopefully this doesn’t get the whole “I don’t root so I don’t care” attitude. If this passes what else will be illegal? Installing personal ringtones NOT bought from Android Market or iTunes for example.

  21. Freedom to Root should be a God given right. 

  22. If Verizon will give me $650 to use a Galaxy Nexus for 2 years and pay me $70 a month to use their services, then I will leave it alone.

    But, if I buy the phone and I pay for the service, I will do whatever I want, including rooting, modding, even crush it under my car tires if I want to.  IT’S MY PHONE!!!

  23. Please let more people catch wind of this! I know that comparably this is not as “big” of an issue as SOPA was/is… but damn it, it is just as outrageous! If Apple protests the exemption publicly again, lets make it so fucking public that the Apple crowd can’t ignore it without truly looking like tools.

  24. It’s one thing to say rooting voids the warranty.  That is totally understandable and I accept it.  However, telling me rooting is illegal is like telling someone they can’t put aftermarket rims on their car.  I can do whatever the heck I want with my property and even if rooting becomes illegal, I will continue to do it.  Come and get me!

  25. If rooting is outlawed , then outlaws will own rooted phones . Just call me Jesse !

  26. Will rooting your smartphone soon be illegal? I, for one, don’t give a shit what is considered legal in the smartphone world. I’m not Android Forums, I don’t have advertisers to please, so I’ll root, ROM, and tether my phone whenever I damn well please and if the carriers don’t like it, or the federal government doesn’t like it, they can ram it up their ass sideways.
    Besides, who cares? You can see the millions of people who don’t smoke marijuana because it’s illegal. /sarcasm

  27. Guess they will have to let out the real criminals the drug dealers murders bank robbers and the alike to make room for all of us roosters and rommers what the hell is wrong with this country

  28. Guess they will have to let out the real criminals the drug dealers murders bank robbers and the alike to make room for all of us rooters and rommers what the hell is wrong with this country

  29. If it does, we’ll still all do it anyway. OOO, I’m soo scared. They’re gonna catch me out of the millions if not billion phone users? Probably not. But seriously, lets not be how apple used to be with that BS.

  30. So what would be the reason to make rooting illegal? I can understand why they wanna ban jailbreaking because of the ability to download pirated apps. But rooting doesn’t affect it as it’s not the way to sideload apps

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