Obama Signs Cell Phone Unlocking Bill Into Law, iPhone Unlocking No Longer Illegal
United States President Barack Obama will today sign a bill that makes cell phone unlocking legal again, writing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law following its unanimous approval by the Senate and House of Representatives.
Obama has long supported the act, which was originally introduced via a 2013 "We the People" petition that gathered more than 100,000 signatures calling for cell phone unlocking to be made legal. It first became illegal to unlock a cell phone in January of 2013, after an exception in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act expired, restricting U.S. customers from shifting their service to other carriers or using their devices abroad with local SIM cards.
Now that cell phone unlocking is once again legal, consumers and third-party unlocking services will be able to unlock paid-for cell phones and tablets without receiving express permission from carriers and without facing criminal penalties. The changes will make it easier for consumers to take their devices to the carrier of their choice after contractual obligations have been fulfilled and it will also be easier to use existing devices abroad.
The bill not only restores the rights of consumers to unlock their phones, but ensures that they can receive help doing so if they lack the technological savvy to unlock on their own.
The most important part of this joint effort is that it will have a real impact. As long as their phone is compatible and they have complied with their contracts, consumers will now be able to enjoy the freedom of taking their mobile service -- and a phone they already own -- to the carrier that best fits their needs. At a time when partisan gridlock all too often threatens progress on everyday issues that matter to consumers, working together we listened to your voices, and the American people benefited as a result.
In December of 2013, U.S. cellular carriers and the FCC also came to an agreement over a set of voluntary principles that will make it easier for wireless customers to unlock their devices and switch from carrier to carrier after a contract has been fulfilled.
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