Mobile

Obama signs phone unlocking bill; you now (really) own your phone

President Barack Obama said he’d sign the phone unlocking bill into law, and he did Friday.

This comes 19 months after advocates launched a petition calling for a law enabling consumers to legally unlock their cell phones after their wireless contract runs out.

Now Americans can hook their phone up to whatever damn carrier they want, as long as they’ve paid for the device in full.

The new law represents a major legal smackdown on the wireless carrier’s clingiest business practices.

After a good deal of the normal Washington posturing, lobbying, revising, and general wrangling — including a questionable maneuver by the cellphone industry lobby to water down the bill — the Senate’s “Unlocking Consumer and Wireless Competition Act” passed in both houses of Congress and then headed for the president’s desk.

The new law provides an exemption for cell phone unlocking to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

It’s important to note that the unlocking exemption that is being reinstated will only last until the Librarian of Congress’s next rule-making, scheduled to happen in 2015. The Librarian of Congress, by law, makes a ruling on exemptions to the DMCA every three years.

While the law is only a temporary guarantee of that right, it’s an important win for consumers.


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9 comments
Bob Black
Bob Black

what a concept... you buy something and actually OWN it ?? WOW...

James Calfee
James Calfee

I have used unlocked hardware long before this bill.. Why wait for a bill? Also, bills can be reversed. Spying is also due to the original infrastructure we have for the Internet. Once matured, spying will not have the same meaning it does today. This can not be reversed.

Mad Martin
Mad Martin

Look like t-mobile got it right.

Mike O\'Hara
Mike O\'Hara

I'm not so sure this is news, is it?  What carriers won't unlock a device after the customer completes a contract?  Additionally, you can't take your phone to "whatever damn carrier" you want as your phone must work on that next carrier's network. Unlocking is just one part of the equation.  If you have a CDMA device you're using with Verizon, it likely won't work on GSM networks like ATT and T-Mobile.