There are many questions that people have about jailbreaking, but one of the biggest questions is: Is jailbreak illegal?
We’ve answered some other questions about jailbreak, like whether or not it slows down your iPhone or if jailbreaking can hurt iPhone battery life, but perhaps the most important question that users should know about jailbreaking, is whether or not it’s illegal to do so.
It’s certainly a great question, and one that frankly should be asked by users looking to jailbreak their iOS devices. Nothing is as serious as following the law so that you don’t get arrested.
Jailbreaking can technically be seen as a form of hacking. You’re essentially breaking into the iOS code via a security hole in order to modify the software to do what you want it to do.
There are many different forms of hacking, of course, but many of them are illegal even if they aren’t particularly harmful. Does jailbreaking fit into that category? Here’s what you should know.
Is Jailbreaking Illegal?
It’s easy to see why you might think that jailbreaking is illegal. While most of the things you can do with a jailbreak are harmless, you can use it for bad, like getting paid features for free. Even a few years ago, there was a jailbreak app that let you download pirated copies of paid iPhone apps.
So, is jailbreak illegal? The short answer is: No, jailbreaking is not illegal. Jailbreaking officially became legal in 2012 when the Library of Congress made an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, allowing users to jailbreak their iPhones. However, iPads didn’t become legal to jailbreak until a couple of months ago, surprisingly.
This means that if you’ve been jailbreaking your iPad for years now, you were technically committing a crime.
Again, jailbreaking can be seen as mostly harmless, but there are some things you can do with it that allow you to actually break the law, like not paying for a paid service, but getting it for free. For instance, a jailbreak app called Flex 2 allows you to get RunKeeper Go features for free, which is a service that normally costs $10 per month.
Furthermore, a jailbreak tweak called YouTube ++ allows you get YouTube Red features for free, which is a service that normally costs $10 per month. Granted, YouTube ++ has existed long before YouTube Red came around, so that’s certainly a gray area of sorts, but you get the idea.
Was it likely that you’d be prosecuted if you were caught jailbreaking your iPhone when it was illegal? Highly unlikely. In fact, jailbreaking is likely the least illegal thing you’ve done or will do during your lifetime.
According to a book written by defense lawyer and civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate, the average American commits several federal crimes per day simply because of all the new laws that criminalize more and more things these days, no matter how trivial.
So if you jailbroke your iPhone or iPad during a time when it was illegal, you probably didn’t have much to worry about as far as getting caught, or if you were caught, no one probably would care.
However, jailbreaking your iPhone is now 100% legal, but keep in mind that it’s still not something Apple wants you to do, so much so that if you do jailbreak your iPhone, it will void your warranty with Apple. The good news, is that since jailbreaking isn’t permanent, you can revert back with little trouble and Apple will likely never know the difference when you take your iPhone in for service.
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