The fines announced in the new rules —$200-$2,500 for an offense by an individual or up to a $500,000 fine, five years behind bars or both for commercial offenses — caused a bit of sticker shock for many Americans. Despite the steep penalties described in the rules, it’s highly unlikely that the fines would ever be enforced. Any suit brought by a provider or tech company would be lost in the court of public opinion far before it ever made it to trial.
Contrary to claims by the White House and others, allowing consumers to unlock their phones most likely stifled innovation over the last decade. Protecting the intellectual property and technological advances of the electronics industry should be a top priority for consumers that enjoy cutting-edge advancements in their smartphones at a subsidized rate.
Michael Moroney is the director of communications at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.