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New cellphone unlocking bill gets approved by the House and heads to the POTUS

The Sim card plays a vital role in locking down cellphones to different cellular networks.
The Sim card plays a vital role in locking down cellphones to different cellular networks.
bthnd - Wikimedia Commons

The practice of unlocking cellphones so that they may be used on multiple cellular networks is something has been taking place for years, but what many U.S citizens might not realize is that the practice of unlocking your cellphone is actually illegal, but that might be about to change. On July 25 the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the U.S House of Representatives cleared a legislation that would make the unlocking of your cellphone legal once again.

Cellphone unlocking was previously legal in the U.S but in January of 2013, the old law that allowed the practice to continue expired. As you can imagine, the big four networks in the U.S (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint) have been incredibly pleased about the practice being outlawed, simply because it meant that more customers, and more devices would be locked down to their networks.

After many months of being lost in a black hole, Congress has unanimously decided to pass the Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act that would make unlocking cellphones legal again. The new bill still has to pass in front of, and be signed by current President Barack Obama, and while that small issue may give the networks a glimmer of hope, they might as well go and sulk in the corner because the POTUS intends to sign the bill into law.

The new law will completely reverse the decision that made phone unlocking a violation of copyright law, and it will free all consumers from the dictatorship of their network provider. The text of the new bill is clean and easy to read, and in no uncertain terms it states that unlocks can be “initiated by the owner” of any device or “by another person at the direction of the current owner” with the express purpose of being able to connect to the wireless network of their choosing.

The law that has been in place for over a year now was considered to be an infringement on consumer rights, and removing it is seen as a move to give power back to the consumer. Unfortunately this will probably not be the last we hear of the situation as once the new bill gets signed into law, it is only good until 2015.