Associated Press is reporting that exemptions in an existing copyright law will now allow users to install third party apps (not from iTunes) as well as unlock their iPhones to switch to another carrier. Quoting the report:
The decision to allow the practice commonly known as “jailbreaking” is one of a handful of new exemptions from a 1998 federal law that prohibits people from bypassing technical measures that companies put on their products to prevent unauthorized uses. The Library of Congress’ Copyright Office reviews and authorizes exemptions every three years to ensure that the law does not prevent certain non-infringing use of copyright-protected material… allow owners of used cell phones to break access controls on their phones in order to switch wireless carriers.
If implemented, it would be a big jolt for Apple which likes to control everything on the iPhone, including which apps users can install on the phone and which they cannot. It might also pave way for factory unlocked iPhones, ones that are not locked to any carrier and hence, unsubsidised, in the US. Apple currently sells unlocked iPhones in UK and France, among other countries.
We are awaiting an official response from Apple on this latest development.