The House of Representatives passed legislation to give US mobile phone users the right to unlock their mobile devices, and now all that remains is for President Barack Obama to rubber-stamp the bill and make it law.
“The bill congress passed… is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget,” Obama said.
The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress – in 2012 – reversed its longstanding position and stated it was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for consumers to unlock new mobile phones without their wireless providers’ permission. This even applied to customers outside their contract periods. As such, those who did unlock their mobile phones faced criminal penalties.
In December the biggest US operators committed to a set of voluntary industry principles related to device unlocking.
The US regulator’s concern was related to a lack of support for the automatic notification of customers when devices become available for unlocking – which is now on the list of principles the operators are supporting.
Legislation, however, was clearly seen as necessary to make sure all operators played ball.