Bill Allowing Americans To Unlock Cellphones Passes House, Heads To Obama

Approving a bill that has already passed the Senate, the House of Representatives has given its consent to legislation that lets U.S. consumers “unlock” their cellphones, rather than having them remain linked to specific service providers.

President Obama says he will sign the bill into law, applauding Congress today for taking “another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cellphone carrier that meets their needs and their budget.”

The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., was passed by a vote of 295 to 114 Friday; the Senate version, championed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was approved 10 days ago.

The legislation repeals a recent ruling by the Library of Congress that found copyright laws could be strictly enforced over “locked” phones because of evolution in the cellphone marketplace.

But critics had said the rule hurt several groups of consumers: those who wanted to link their phones to overseas carriers when they traveled; those who wanted to switch carriers; and those who wanted to sell phones they’ve bought through a wireless company.

After today’s House vote, Laura Moy, staff attorney at advocacy group Public Knowledge, said the new law would boost competition in the wireless market and “improve the availability of free and low-cost secondhand phones for consumers who cannot afford to purchase new devices.”

She also said “it will keep millions of devices out of landfills.”

The new law would re-establish an exemption to a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that prohibited unlocking a phone. The bill also directs the Librarian of Congress to review whether the exemption should apply to tablets and other devices as well as phones.

In February 2013, a public petition to legalize “unlocking” phones blew past the White House’s 100,000-signature threshold that requires a response; later that year, President Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission to legalize the practice.

As NPR’s Laura Sydell has reported, the FCC agreed on terms with wireless carriers in December, in a deal that would require companies such as AT&T and Verizon to unlock a phone from their networks, but only if a customer asks them to — and only if their contract has ended.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.image
Read original article – Published July 25, 2014 4:49 PM ET
Bill Allowing Americans To Unlock Cellphones Passes House, Heads To Obama

Recent headlines

  • Computer problems for some - extended coffee break for others: Some employees of the Dept. of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Financial Services Division in the State Office Building in Juneau drink coffee near their disabled computers March 22, 2017. The workers, who chose to not be identified, said that some computers were working while others were not as a result of a statewide technical problem within the state's system. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

    Software update locks thousands of state workers out of computers

    Roughly 6,000 state workers were unable to log in to their computers, affecting two in five executive branch workers.
  • The top of the Raven Shark totem pole lies in Totem Hall at Sitka National Historical Park. (Photo by Emily Russell/KCAW)

    After 30 years, Raven Shark pole back in Sitka

    The totem pole is an icon of the Pacific Northwest. The carved art form showcases clan stories and family crests in museums around the world. After more than 30 years in the Anchorage Museum, a century-old pole from Southeast has made it back to Sitka, where curators are prepping a permanent home.
  • Longtime leader Rosita Worl to leave Sealaska board

    One of the Sealaska regional Native corporation’s longest-serving leaders is stepping down. Rosita Worl says she will not run for another term after 30 years on the board.
  • U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks to reporters in one of the Senate’s more ornate rooms. (Photo by Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

    Murkowski at odds with Trump’s call to end NEA funding

    President Donald Trump’s budget outline calls for eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA has been a frequent target of Republicans, but U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski supports the endowment, and Tuesday she won the 2017 Congressional Arts Leadership Award.
X