Feeds

Want to legally unlock your phone from its network? The US Senate says that's A-OK

Bill passed. Now there's just niggling to sort out

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

In a rare display of equanimity (and common sense), the US Senate has unanimously passed a bill allowing cell phone owners to unlock their handsets, should they choose to do so.

"I applaud the Senate for so quickly passing the bipartisan Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which puts consumers first and promotes competition in the wireless phone marketplace," said the bill's author, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

"With the Senate's swift action last night, just days after the Judiciary Committee approved the measure, I hope the House will soon take up and pass our bill so that consumers will be able to use their existing cell phones on the wireless carrier of their choice."

The House of Representatives passed similar legislation in February, but with one crucial difference. The House voted to ban unlocking large numbers of phones "for the purpose of bulk resale." Leahy and cosponsors will now try to work out a compromise on the legislation that would allow the joint bill to be signed by President Obama.

Unlocking cell phones used to be legal, thanks to an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act enacted by Librarian of Congress James Billington. But unlocking handsets has been illegal since last January, after the Librarian changed his mind on the topic.

The move outraged cell phone "owners" and over 100,000 of them signed a petition to the White House to get the law changed. While President Obama came out in favor of unlocking, he promptly passed the buck and said it was up to Congress to get it done.

Additional pressure for change came from the Federal Communications Commission, which told mobile phone companies to allow unlocking or face the threat of regulatory action. The five largest US wireless carriers agreed to this, but only once a user has finished paying off a two-year contract.

Lawmakers want to codify that into law, however, and the need has become more pressing in light of recent changes in the US mobile market. T-Mobile's "UnCarrier" initiative has left many consumers itching to ditch their two-year contracts, so the ability to switch providers with the minimum of hassle is now needed more than ever. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.