It Is Now Legal to Unlock Your Phone in the U.S.

As we predicted last week, President Obama has approved and signed the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act," making it once again legal to unlock your phones to use on carriers of your choice. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the main supporter of the bill, confirmed the news via The White House Blog. Of course, you still have to completely own your phone, so month-by-month payment plans and other contract terms will keep your phone on lockdown.

Although this legislation gives us all a reprieve from carriers' stranglehold on our devices, the solution is only temporary. The Library of Congress will still review this exception every three years, but for now, we're going to check mark this in the wins column.


Go forth, unlock, and be merry. [The White House Blog]

Unlocking Your Phone Is About To Be Legal Again

Looking to overturn a longstanding Library of Congress decision to Fort Knox your gadgets to a specific carrier, the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act" (S.517) just hurdled its second major obstacle on its way to becoming a law. Now, the bill only needs the POTUS' signature and smartphones will be able travel among carriers uninterrupted. This is all pretty much a formality as the president has come out in support of the policy.

So what does all this mean for you? Most phones only work on specific networks. If you want to use your phone on another network, it needs to be unlocked. As it stands now, you need to get your carrier's permission (to do something with a device you already bought). This bill protects customers as well as third-party professionals who provide unlocking services, so you can purchase a smartphone from one carrier and be able to use it on another carrier if needed. So that you own that device you bought, and can do what you want with it. This bill also extends to not only smartphones, but tablets and other carrier-dependent devices.


The vote has been praised by the Competitive Carriers Association, a Washington-based advocacy group. "This is a good day for consumers and wireless carriers, especially smaller carriers who still have trouble accessing the most advanced devices," says CAA president and CEO Steven K. Berry. Now, the bill just needs to swing by the Oval Office and then into law.

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