March is sure shaping up to be a great month for proponents of smartphone users’ rights in the US. First we saw the chair of the FCC talk about supporting work towards once again legalizing end-user smartphone unlocking, and earlier this week we heard the White House throw its weight behind efforts to accomplish the same goal. In its statement, the White House mentioned seeking legislation to free unlocking from the oversight of the DMCA, and now we’re learning about the first such bill to propose those changes, introduced before Congress as the Wireless Device Independence Act.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon brought forth the legislation, which amends the DMCA to allow “a wireless telephone handset, or other wireless device that can connect to the Internet originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer to connect to a different wireless telecommunications network.” It offers few stipulations on such unlocking, such as being the legitimate owner of the device and not attempting to access a wireless network without authorization, but is largely nonrestrictive.
We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but between the White House’s support for such legislation and some early signs of support from members of Congress in both parties, this one might just have a shot at passing.