Judge Sees Through Federal Face-Saving Attempt, Tosses Out Phone Unlocking Charges
from the justice dept
You might remember the case of three Palestinan-American men that were arrested last month in Michigan: they had about 1,000 prepaid cellphones, leading some authorities to believe they were somehow connected to terrorism. When that didn’t pan out, the men were hit with bogus fraud charges that claimed their intent to unlock and resell the phones was illegal. It wasn’t clear exactly how their actions broke the law, and a federal magistrate has now tossed out the charges for a lack of evidence. The dismissal sort of punts on the issue of the illegality of unlocking cell phones to work on any provider, but as Wired notes, other cases involving the DMCA and arguments about circumventing copy protection on garage door openers and printer cartridges that might have some relevance haven’t been successful. The dismissal does little to dispel the belief that the fraud charges were anything more than a weak attempt to save some face after the reality of the situation didn’t meet the initial hype it generated.