It’s been a long time coming, but Apple has finally stepped up and made an official public statement regarding the recent spate of iPhone unlocking that has swept the globe like a dark plague. Phil Schiller, the company’s head of worldwide marketing, had this to say about unlocked iPhones: “We are not doing anything proactively to disable iPhones that have been hacked or unlocked.” All gravy, then, right? Not quite. The company has stated that the newiPhone firmware, due sometime this week, might render previously unlocked iPhones “permanently inoperable.” Insofar as we can tell, most of the popular unlocking services are purely software based, so we’re not entirely sure how a firmware update would brick the device, but we suppose anything is possible. We certainly understand where Apple (as well as AT&T) is coming from, but from a consumer standpoint, this is very frustrating news. Whatever happened to consumer freedom, Mr. Jobs?