Tablet computers
Exemptions in the provisions of the DMCA now allow the jailbreaking of tablets and smart TVs Reuters

While manufacturers like Apple are explicitly discouraging unofficial tweaks, the US government has now made it legal for consumers to jailbreak their tablets and smart TVs. The new development has emerged through a couple of exemptions issued by the US Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress added the exemptions to a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and brought relief to consumers eager to jailbreak their devices. The exemptions were initially designed to let consumers jailbreak their smartphones and was not extended to other devices. However, consumers are now free to jailbreak tablets and smart TVs in addition to their smartphones.

"This proposed class would permit the jailbreaking of all-purpose mobile computing devices to allow the devices to run lawfully acquired software that is otherwise prevented from running, or to remove unwanted preinstalled software from the device. The category "all-purpose mobile computing device" includes all-purpose non-phone devices (such as the Apple iPod touch) and all-purpose tablets (such as the Apple iPad or the Google Nexus)," one exemption reads.

While the exemptions have extended jailbreaking, consumers are still not allowed to jailbreak devices such as e-readers, handheld gaming devices, laptops and desktop computers. Besides, video game consoles like Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox cannot be jailbroken.

While the anti-piracy watchdog Business Software Alliance (BSA) opposed any kind of jailbreaking, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said jailbreaking of devices that are portable or come equipped with an operating system such as Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS or Windows Phone is fine.

Apple recently released the iOS 9.1 update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that patched jailbreak vulnerabilities. This is not the first move by the Cupertino giant to reduce instances of jailbreaking, as it had previously released similar updates.

The new exemptions will only last for three years as the Library of Congress generally announces new exemptions every 36 months or so. In the past, it had made it illegal to unlock smartphones that are bundled with carrier plans.