President Obama signs the “unlocking” bill, it is now legal to unlock your mobile phone

President Obama signs the “unlocking” bill, it is now legal to unlock your mobile phone
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, passed by Congress late last week, was signed into law by President Obama on Friday, making it fully legal to unlock mobile phones in the United States.

The new law undoes a decision made by the Library of Congress in 2012 to not renew an exemption in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and thusly made it illegal for consumers to arbitrarily unlock mobile devices.

Almost immediately, petitions and new bills started to get drafted and indeed, a bill was proposed over a year ago to “fix” the DMCA, but nothing happened despite broad bi-partisan support. Undaunted, a new bill, sponsored by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was written and it pretty much flew through both houses of Congress late last week.

President Obama’s signature makes it the law of the land, although, arguably only temporarily, as the “unlocking” law does not remove the obligation or power of the Library of Congress to examine if the reinstatement of this legal exemption shall remain, well, legal. That next review will happen sometime in 2015 which means the Copyright Office could make it illegal, again.

While it will not likely see any visibility during the current session of Congress, there are bills being prepared that would make the unlocking provision permanent. Expect this issue to make the news again in 2015.

source: CBS News

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35 Comments

1. Sesameopen

Posts: 109; Member since: Aug 02, 2013

Woot **ck you att

2. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

No **ck Verizon

3. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Intercourse the both of them.

5. Furbal unregistered

Att isn't nearly as bad as Verizon imo

7. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Agreed. At least with AT&T phones you can take them to their MVNOs or T-Mobie and its MVNOs. Can't take anything to Verizon, and can't take anything Verizon to anywhere else.

12. repeat33

Posts: 2; Member since: Aug 02, 2014

Verizon phones come factory unlocked. Put the sim in, change the Apn and it works with any gsm carrier and MVNOs.

13. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

Exactly. And best of all, if you buy a Verizon iPhone to use on ATT, you get service where ATT models don't (I know they are the exact same model) because ATT has gimped theirs from using all of their "wireless partner" agreements. It REALLY pisses AT&T off when you use Verizon phones on AT&T because you are actually getting all the service you pay for from them.

18. ibap

Posts: 871; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

Verizon MVNO pagepluscellular.com , and there is speculation that they'll have 4G soon. See also kittywireless.com, which is a dealer for Page Plus. But you have to find that either the no-contract aspect, or the ability to buy less service, works for you. Right now you can't activate a 4G enabled phone, have to flash it, but the hope is that will change in the next month.

22. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3166; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Verizon's own prepaid (Allset) just started allowing LTE last month and Page Plus is rumoured to start toward the end of August.

14. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Actually Verizon phones are unlocked. The lte ones.

32. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

But there's no point u can't use AT&T on T-mobile or the other way around? i tried that once using a T-MOBILE phone on AT&T network was slower on the phone. so i'd rather buy new ones. and THIS IS GOOD news for those that wants their phone unlocked and don't have to pay a HEFTY FEE. FCK U AT&T

33. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

ATT network is slower than TMUS', period. It's got nothing to do with the phone, but with the network.

34. iSometimes

Posts: 57; Member since: Feb 16, 2011

I believe that is because AT&T and TMobileUS use different bands for anything above 2G. In other words, they only have the same band for 2G speeds, also known as EDGE. So, if you use a TMobile phone on AT&T, you will only be able to get 2G speeds. Nothing else.

35. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

No, both TMUS and ATT run 3G on 1900MHz in most markets. The difference is that TMUS' HSPA+ may deliver speeds over 10Mbps, whereas ATT's is seldom faster than 5Mbps.

4. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Wow, Obama actually did something that helps the common man, unlike his (un)Affordable Health Care Act.

10. PAPINYC

Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

OMG, you took the words right out of my mouth; I'm proud of Bam Bam, 'he the man'!

16. ibap

Posts: 871; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

Well actually, the most amusing part of the ACA is the number of Pachyderms who are delighted with it since it helps them support their unemployed/unemployable/too-lazy-to-look-for-a-rea​l-job kids. And the number of entrepreneurs who couldn't get/afford health care while they built their business, so it kept them from venturing out on their own. Need a reality check much?

25. PAPINYC

Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

You are correct, Sir; iBoweth to thee! (And, plus you 1)

20. datphoneguy

Posts: 155; Member since: Sep 15, 2013

LOL yeah, because the "common man" really cares about unlocking their phone. Whatever.

28. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Yes, they do. If they spent $100 on a crappy Samsung with some MVNO that sucks, and they want to try something else, they should be able to take their crappy $100 phone to another MVNO that might not suck as much, and not have to spend another $100 on another crappy Samsung phone because the phones are carrier locked. Millions of Americans live month-to-month. The same Americans that are $%#@'d by Obamacare because their employers are only giving them 28 hours/week now (and thus don't receive the health care benefits), and are trying to find a 2nd job but can't because millions of other Americans are trying to do the same thing.

26. corporateJP

Posts: 2458; Member since: Nov 28, 2009

Six plus years in office, he's done one thing right...signing a bill that won't stick anyhow because the Baby Bell Lobby Money Armored Car will be stopping by Congress sometime soon anyhow.

6. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

American finally get freedom, roftlmao

9. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Its a like a double edged sword. It can be beneficial for times of emergency at the same time can be abused by those who have malice. I haven't read the law but I believe it got its own limitations and rules to protect those of have interests.

19. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

That's what laws and the justice system are for, to target those who act out of malice. Meanwhile, men of good will roam free from laws that hinder their actions. That is, not in these U S of Aargh!

11. Bishop_99

Posts: 75; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

Great. So what does this mean when you just want to buy a phone from a carrier and pay it in full up front? That T-mobile, AT&T, Verizon, or whoever else will automatically unclock your phone upon your request, or will they still require you to use their plans for 30 to 90 days before they unlock your phone?

15. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Wow, old cartoon screen grab for article picture. Wtg.

17. ibap

Posts: 871; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

Don't get too excited. If you've got a CDMA phone, there is no requirement that anyone else ACTIVATE it. This has more meaning for GSM phones, or the GSM side of a CDMA (i.e. Verizon or Sprint) phone with GSM capability. But people don't want to pay the staggering no-contract price up front for the better phones. And ETFs still apply for those bought on contract. And even for GSM phones - beware of frequency, especially LTE, differences.

21. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

Its about time. We shouldn't have to restricted to one carrier when he buy a phone thats capable of providing more than one network to use. I like AT&T, but I should have the option to use Tmobile to determine if its worth switching.........without buying a new phone or committing to a contract to do so

23. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3166; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Neither T-Mobile or AT&T require you to sign a contract. Thing is, you have to pay for it full price and up front. Can't have it both ways.

27. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

Thats true. I feel that we shouldn't be restricted to one phone......one carrier. I plan on buying either the Note 3 or Note 4 and I should be able to choose whatever carrier I want to give me the best service

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