New bill introduced that legalizes cellphone unlocking and more

By , May 10, 2013

Unlocked iPhone

Back in January, the mobile homebrew community suffered a major blow when several DMCA exemptions expired. Among them was a rule that made unlocking cellphones legal, effectively making the practice illegal here in the United States.

But it may not be that way for long. A new bill just landed in the House of Representatives called The Unlocking Technology Act of 2013, which, among other things, would make the process of unlocking your cellphone unequivocally legal…

The bill was introduced yesterday by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, and backed by Jared Polis of Colorado and Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Both Polis and Massie have earned a reputation for being closely involved in technology policy issues.

And essentially, what the bill calls for is an amendment to Section 1201(a), of title 17, of the US Code. Specifically, it asks that users be allowed to circumvent their device’s ‘security measures,’ as long as they don’t infringe on copyrighted material.

So what does this all mean? Nothing yet. The Unlocking Technology Act would have to get approval from the majority of the House, then make its way through the Senate, before finally being signed into law by the United States President.

The good news, though, is that if the bill ever does make it to the President’s desk, he’s said he’ll sign it. His administration announced support for legalizing unlocking back in March, in response to a petition that garnered over 100K signatures.

Due to carrier exclusivity and other factors, unlocking has become fairly popular among iPhone users. It’s even spawned a lucrative reseller industry. So needless to say, the outcome of this bill will have major ramifications.

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  • http://twitter.com/digitalfeind Dani Hayes

    Legal or not I am still going to do it. My device not the carriers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.bo.790 Chris Bö

      If you have The phone via Contract with a monthly fee the phone is NOT yours aslong as you haven’t paied the full amount to the carrier !!!

      • Jacob Tucker

        Actually if I fail to fulfill my contract they are going to charge me an early termination fee and not take the phone back; therefore the phone is mine from the beginning.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.bo.790 Chris Bö

        Nope … It’s yours if you have paid the termination fee … Theresia is a differece between proprietor and owner

      • http://twitter.com/digitalfeind Dani Hayes

        Doesn’t matter if you are on a contract or not. The carrier cannot come after you for the phone. I can pay $199 for an iPhone 5 from Sprint and then never pay for my monthly service. They can only come after you for the termination fees.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.bo.790 Chris Bö

        Lol I see its to simple in your country to get a contract I guess … In Germany if I do the same I can wait for the day they block my bank account until all money is paid to them …

    • felixtaf

      +1
      Almost all the unlocking stores are taken down from ebay. We have to rely on foreign unlock websites. Hard for people who live in US… But people who do it, will do it… Hope the law will be passed…

      • ChiefSpecialK

        Is Chronic not still unlocking? His methods have been rock solid as long I knew.

      • felixtaf

        Sorry… never used that… I use cellunlocker dot net and onlineunlocksdot com. Unlock_fusionin ebay was reliable. But its taken down now. The other two sites are still alive. Unlocked a gophone few days ago too…

      • Solowalker

        chronicunlocks.com still up and running. Chronic prides himself on as easy unlocking as it comes, 100% legal even in the current state of things, and generally super fast service. Guarantees no re-locking, ever. And he’s based in the states.

      • bloodshed

        Agreed. screw this bill. i was waiting for so long hoping something might change and i can get my iphone unlocked (got it 3 years ago from a friend lived in the US, used it for a few days, literally, and as an ipod)..but the wait is over, two days ago i used chronic service and it was amazing..i got my iphone factory unlocked under 15 hours..for $9.99, how great is the feeling to insert any sim and it works!

  • http://twitter.com/aidanharris1 ✪ aidan harris ✪

    What about iPads? I couldn’t care less as I do not live in the US but the last I heard it is illegal to jailbreak an iPad. Is that still the case since it seems really stupid if it is…

    • Gorgonphone

      ipad jailbreak has been illegal for a looooong time…lol but as long aS a jb tool is available for it i will use it..

  • pauleebe

    Between Tmobile stepping up their game and this bill coming into play, 2013 could be a big year for anti-big business of carriers

  • Edoc

    Their problem is with the unlocking mafia out there making profits thanks to this criminals, network locking should be illegal.