Congress has approved a bill which will make it legal to unlock a cellphone in the United States so you can use it with a different wireless carrier. That was actually legal from 2006 through 2012… but only due to an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) which has been in effect since 1998.

Now the House and Senate have reached agreement on a measure that will make unlocking a phone legal again… once President Obama signs the bill into law. The good news is that’s something he’s already said he’ll do.


Does this mean phone makers or wireless carriers will have to make it easy for customers to unlock their devices? Nope. But you won’t be prosecuted for doing it on your own.

What the measure allows is for you to circumvent “a technological measure that restricts wireless telephone handsets or other wireless devices from connecting to a wireless telecommunications network” or have another person or commercial entity do it on your behalf.

The new measure isn’t necessarily the final word on the issue either. Once it’s signed into law it’ll be legal to unlock your phone in the United States… until 2015 when the Library of Congress reconsiders its rules and decides whether to extend the exemption to the DCMA.

Then there’ll be another review every three years.

via Ars Technica and VentureBeat

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7 replies on “Unlocking your cellphone in the US is about to become legal (again)”

  1. Congress, the best representatives (insert funding source possesive form here) money can buy.

    Too bad this only really applies to GSM phones. With the 21 flavors of carriers’ LTE implementations,
    unlocking LTE is laughable. Unlocking will probably only bcom the rule when the EU mandates it.

  2. Here’s a thought: why not just make locking phones illegal in the first place? Then no DCMA zombie can rise from the dead over and over. Along with this make all of the usurious “phone plans” illegal as well.

    1. Couldn’t quite go that far. But whoever OWNS the phone should have the legal right to unlock and when ownership passes the previous owner should be legally required to pass on the key. As in if you buy out your contract or fulfill the full term you should actually own the phone.

  3. president numnuts has nothing to do with drawing up the bill,,he doesn’t even know whats in it…GAFB

    1. No idea what this has to do with the subject at hand, but one thing’s for sure… he would wipe the floor with you on any intelligence test if you believe that.

Comments are closed.