Phone unlocking bill passes in Senate, moves closer to restoring consumer rights

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Right now in the US, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prevents unauthorized unlocking of smartphone hardware for operation on another carrier. In the past, unlocking had been awarded a specific DMCA exemption, but after that rule failed to be renewed, the practice returned to illegality. Ever since, there’s been talk from multiple branches of government suggesting that a change of law needs to happen, firmly establishing the legitimacy of unlocking. We’ve discussed some of these efforts in the past, but now it looks like real headway is finally being made, as the Senate passes the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act.

The bill improves upon a similar version already approved by the House, eliminating restrictions on bulk unlocking of handsets for resale. Assuming this new legislation is also able to pass in the House, the law would require the previous DMCA exemption to be reinstated, and further direct the Library of Congress to reconsider the exemption the next time it makes such rules. In that light, it falls a bit short of a permanent solution, but barring a more substantial dismantling of the DMCA, it sounds like this is the best we could hope to get.

Senator Patrick Leahy’s office is now coordinating with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte in efforts to get this new bill enshrined as law before the end of the year.

Source: Senator Leahy
Via: The Verge

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bitsRead more about Stephen Schenck!