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Obama treaty won’t overturn jailbreaking ban

A ban on jailbreaking and unlocking devices is unlikely to be repealed by the US government in a treaty being championed by President Barack Obama that is supposed to make it simpler to unblock devices.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] treaty could work against efforts to make jailbreaking and unlocking easier according to one of those that has backed a loosening of the ban all along.

Derek Khanna, a law fellow at Yale, submitted a petition to the White House that persuaded the Obama administration to end the ban on unlocking devices. He stated “while the White House was publicly proclaiming its support of cellphone unlocking, it was secretly negotiating a treaty that would ban it."

"The treaty as proposed would stop all methods of circumvention," Khanna stated in an e-mail to ArsTechnica. "The key is that there must be an exemption to allow for unlocking. In the draft text, there is no exemption for unlocking."

A working draft of the treaty was obtained and published by WikiLeaks and the draft prohibits the manufacturing or distribution of devices or services "for the purpose of circumvention of any effective technological measure.” It adds that it will prohibit devices and services that "have only a limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent any effective technological measure, or are primarily designed, produced, or performed for the purpose of the circumvention of any effective technological measure."

The treaty is still being negotiated and includes the likes of Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam as well as both the US and Canada.

Canada has already put forward its own amendment that allows the "circumvention of a technological measure on a radio apparatus for the sole purpose of gaining or facilitating access to a telecommunication service by means of the radio apparatus."

The impact of the TPP is negligible as it simply mirrors what is already part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA], according to ArsTechnica. Sherwin Siy, VP of legal affairs at Public Knowledge also told ArsTechnica that it is simply a case of the US attempting to export the DMCA to the rest of the world.