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Cell phone unlocking bill passed by Congress


Ever since a specific exemption in the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) made phone unlocking illegal earlier this year, a movement has been underway to make sure consumers had the right to unlock their devices once their contract period is up. A bill was proposed to make it legal, and was passed by the Senate fairly recently. Today, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill, making phone unlocking legal.

Known as the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act”, it now allows customers and third parties to unlock phones sold to them by carriers, without the fear of a hefty fine (or five years in jail). All that’s left to make this bill active is a signature from the President.

The only slight bad news is that the bill isn’t permanent. It’s subject to review next year, and will be reconsidered by the Library of Congress. After that, it’s reviewed every 3 years unless circumstances change. Still, it’s unlikely that the bill will every be reversed, but crazier things have happened.

“The cell phone unlocking bill has a direct impact on Americans as we become more reliant on our wireless devices,” Senate ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says in a statement. “This bipartisan bill is pro-consumer and pro-competition and allows for greater ease in the portability of devices.  It will provide greater competition and more consumer choice.”

This news comes only a few days after we discovered T-Mobile is working on a Device Unlock app which remotely unlocks any compatible device. If information on T-Mo’s support pages is correct, the Samsung Galaxy Avant will launch with the software pre-installed. This comes just a month after we were told the test engineer models were equipped with it.

Could this be the time and a chance for T-Mobile to show it really is the Un-carrier? By allowing customers to free their phones of a carrier lock, it would send a strong signal out to its competitors that it doesn’t want to restricted any subscribers.

Via: The Verge

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