What just happened? If you've enjoyed Verizon's policy of selling its phones unlocked thus far, you may be disappointed to learn that it will be going away soon -- sort of. Following a recent FCC ruling, Verizon has been granted the ability to keep newly-sold phones locked to its network for a maximum of 60 days, at which point the devices will be automatically unlocked.

Though this may seem like an unusual decision for the FCC to make, there's a good reason for it: both the organization and Verizon itself believe that this slightly less restrictive version of previous phone unlocking rules will prevent identity theft and device fraud.

"Verizon plans to implement a short, 60 day fraud safety check period, which will go into effect very soon," said Verizon CEO Ronan Dunne. "After the 60 day period the phones will unlock automatically. That means, fraudsters who order and steal phones — clearly with no intention of ever paying for them will have a much harder time."

The original phone unlocking rules that Verizon has been bound by took effect when the carrier acquired "C block" from the FCC during a 2008 spectrum auction -- the FCC's new decision is considered a "limited waiver" of those rules.

The FCC feels that the number of consumers that might be harmed by this waiver is insignificant when compared to the potential for identity theft. "Verizon indicates that only “a tiny fraction” of its customers port their numbers or change carriers within the first 60 days of service and that those who do change carriers usually return their handsets to Verizon within the 14-day return period," the Commission said in an order.