Congress OKs Bill to Legalize Unlocking Cell Phones

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Congress OKs Bill to Legalize Unlocking Cell Phones

Almost two years after the Library of Congress moved to make cell phone unlocking illegal, Congress this week approved a bill that reverses that decision and will once again give consumers the right to unlock their devices.

The bill, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, must now be signed by President Obama to take effect.

The Senate approved the bill on July 15, and the House did the same on Friday, clearing the way for the president’s signature. The measure specifies that consumers can unlock their cell phones without running afoul of copyright laws. It also directs the Librarian of Congress to consider whether gadgets like tablets should be eligible for unlocking.

“The bipartisan Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act puts consumers first, promotes competition in the wireless phone marketplace, and encourages continued use of existing devices,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who penned the Senate bill, said in a statement. “Once the President signs this bill into law, consumers will be able to more easily use their existing cell phones on the wireless carrier of their choice.”

“This law will protect consumer choice by allowing flexibility when it comes to choosing a wireless carrier,” said Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte, who sponsored the House version.

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