Hackers release browser-based iPhone 4 jailbreak

iPhone Dev Team announces release of bypass for protections just days after U.S. Copyright Office declares that mobile-phone jailbreaking is legit.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Steven Musil
2 min read
The new browser-based iPhone 4 jailbreak.
The new browser-based iPhone 4 jailbreak. Steven Musil/CNET

The unlocked iPhone 4 is now technically legal and technically possible.

Just days after the U.S. Copyright Office ruled that bypassing a manufacturer's protection mechanisms to allow "handsets to execute software applications" no longer violates federal copyright law, the iPhone Dev Team on Sunday released a jailbreak for the iPhone 4 at JailbreakMe.com.

Unlike previous jailbreaks, which required the device to be connected to a computer to run the update, the latest jailbreak is accomplished completely via mobile Safari loaded on the device. The browser-based software bypass reportedly works on all iOS devices, including iPhones, iPads, and iPods running iOS 4 and iOS 4.01, but it will reportedly not work on devices running the iOS 4.1 beta.

Also, some users report the jailbreak disrupts FaceTime and MMS functionality on the device.

However, as of this writing, demand for the jailbreak is apparently so strong that the site's servers can't keep up, and many visitors report difficulty in getting through.

Jailbreaking allows devices to run apps not approved by the company producing the operating system--such as Apple, the main target of such bypasses. Jailbreaking also allows devices to run on nonauthorized networks.

While the U.S. Copyright Office has declared the software legal, Apple discourages users from loading the bypass, reminding them that doing so will void their device's warranty. "As we've said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably," Apple said in a statement earlier this week.