The House on Friday unanimously passed legislation will make cell phone unlocking legal, just one week after the Senate approved the same measure. The bill now goes to the White House for signature.
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, brought by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) reinstates the rule that would allow consumers to use their device on other networks by unlocking their device — whether on their own or by a third-party service. Unfortunately, similar to the House Bill that was passed a few months ago, it does not permanently legalize cell phone unlocking, however it does require the Library of Congress to put a temporary exemption back in place while it decides whether or not to extend it for renewal.
The legislation approved by the House Friday, which the Senate unanimously approved last week, reinstates a 2010 rulemaking by the Librarian of Congress so that consumers can transfer, or “unlock,” their cell phones without running afoul of copyright laws. It also directs the Librarian of Congress to consider whether other wireless devices, like tablets, should be eligible for unlocking.
Over 100,000 people signed a petition last year after the Library of Congress ruled cell phone unlocking illegal sparking the legislation.
“I thank the House for moving so quickly on the bill we passed in the Senate last week and for working in a bipartisan way to support consumers. The bipartisan Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act puts consumers first, promotes competition in the wireless phone marketplace, and encourages continued use of existing devices,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. “Once the President signs this bill into law, consumers will be able to more easily use their existing cell phones on the wireless carrier of their choice.”