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U.S. House Approves Bill Making Smartphone Unlocking Legal, Obama Pledges to Sign it Into Law

We're one step closer to being able to legally unlock smartphones again, as the United States House of Representatives today passed legislation that legalizes cell phone unlocking, unanimously voting in favor of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act.

The Act was approved by the Senate last week, which means the final step is presidential approval. Obama has long supported making cell phone unlocking legal again, and today pledged to sign the bill into law.

I applaud Members of Congress for passing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. Last year, in response to a "We the People" petition from consumers across our country, my Administration called for allowing Americans to use their phones or mobile devices on any network they choose. We laid out steps the FCC, industry, and Congress should take to ensure copyright law does not undermine wireless competition, and worked with wireless carriers to reach a voluntary agreement that helps restore this basic consumer freedom.

The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget. I commend Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte, and Ranking Members Grassley and Conyers for their leadership on this important consumer issue and look forward to signing this bill into law.
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act came about following a 2013 "We the People petition" that called for cell phone unlocking to be made legal. Cell phone unlocking first became illegal in January of 2013, after an exception in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act expired, restricting U.S. customers from shifting service to other carriers or using their devices abroad with local SIM cards.

Under the terms of the bill, consumers and third-party services will again be able to unlock cell phones and tablets without receiving express permission from carriers and without facing criminal penalties.

In December of 2013, U.S. cellular carriers and the FCC also came to an agreement over a set of voluntary principles that make it easier for wireless customers to unlock their devices and switch from carrier to carrier after a contract has been fulfilled.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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63 months ago
Finally. All of our problems are now solved. Congress should just take the rest of the year off so they can pat themselves on the back for a job well done. But before they do, why not vote in favor of a pay increase for themselves? They deserve it.
Rating: 26 Votes
63 months ago
I love how anything involving politics around here instantly gets shoved into PRSI. :P
Rating: 16 Votes
63 months ago
Once your contract has been fulfilled the provider should be obligated to provide the unlock at no charge.
Rating: 12 Votes
63 months ago
Oh look, bipartisanship is possible!
Rating: 11 Votes
63 months ago
Inb4 Fox News says that it's a "terrible idea" and "the end of the world as we know it" based solely on the fact that Obama is backing it.
Rating: 9 Votes
63 months ago
Does this mean all the Obama haters are going to try to find ways to lock their phones just to spite him?:rolleyes:
Rating: 7 Votes
63 months ago

Yay!! Until we start having to buy all smartphones cash up front at full price.

They don't really need to do that because they can still lock you into a contract that covers the cost of any subsidy, so even if you take your phone and go elsewhere, you're on the hook for either the monthly charges or the ETF (which will, again, cover their subsidy).

All of that said, I now buy my phones cash up front at full price and get:
- lower monthly bill, sufficient to make the two year cost of ownership lower than with the subsidy
- as a sub point to the above, with a subsidy, you keep paying the same high monthly cost even after the contract is up and the subsidy is "paid off," which means if you ever keep a phone longer than 2 years, you're REALLY getting ripped off
- no contract
- unlocked from day 1, even before this legislation

So all in all, I'm a big fan of cash up front with no contract. Provided of course you have the cash in hand up front.
Rating: 7 Votes
63 months ago
If I buy my phone outright, it should be unlocked by default.
Rating: 6 Votes
63 months ago

this hurts big business. are they out of their mind. wth was the GOP thinking agreeing to this. smh

How does this hurt business? I know that republicans usually don't make sense when they have to try to explain their corporate wealth favoring agenda to the commoners, but your comment here is rather odd.
Rating: 6 Votes
63 months ago
Next watch your bill... there will be a new charge in the name of "Federal unlocking fee" or something like that....
Rating: 6 Votes

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