U.S. Mobile Phone Unlocking Bill Doesn't Deliver Instant Freedom
NEWS ANALYSIS: A new law that makes it legal for people to unlock their cell phones so they can move to another service provider will expand owners' options, but is no magic bullet.In a rare display of bipartisanship, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed identical versions of a bill that overturns a ruling by the Librarian of Congress that made it illegal to unlock your cell phone. The bill, S. 517, otherwise known as the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act" is pretty straightforward. In fact, all the bill really does is eliminate the rule making by the librarian that found phone unlocking to be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as it regards circumvention of copyright protections. The bill also directs the Librarian to determine whether tablets and other similar devices are also covered by the new law. The bill will now go to President Barack Obama for signing. Considering the congratulatory statement from the White House, we can assume the president will sign the bill.
The legislation did not do what some have feared and make bulk unlocking illegal, which would have complicated the practices of phone recyclers, including police departments and advocacy groups that provide free phones to abuse victims and others who need to call for help. An article provided by the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) explains some of the thinking of the Senate, when it started this particular ball rolling.