US House passes bill that makes unlocking your phone legal

By , Feb 26, 2014

Unlocked iPhone

Reuters is reporting that the US House has passed a bill that would allow mobile phone users to unlock their devices and use them on competitors’ wireless networks without repercussions, making the once ‘gray-area’ practice completely legal.

Before you get too excited, however, there are a few big asterisks. First, for the bill to be written into law it must also be approved by the Senate, which could take years or never happen. And two, the bill contains an exclusion for ‘bulk unlocking.’

Here’s the report from Reuters (via Engadget):

“The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would give mobile phone users the right to “unlock” their devices and use them on competitors’ wireless networks, although Senate action was uncertain.

The House approved the bill easily, by a 295-114 vote, although some Democrats had pushed back against what they said was a last-minute Republican maneuver to change the legislation.

It is not known whether the Senate will consider the bill.”

The exclusion of ‘bulk unlocking’ was said to be a last-minute change by the Republicans, who argued that it wouldn’t prevent the bulk sale of previously unlock phones, but Democrats called the modification a”poison pill” for consumer advocates.

The Hill has comments from Senator Polis on the bill:

“Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said he opposes the bill now because it indicates congressional opposition to the idea of allowing bulk unlocking services.”The last-minute change that was made in this bill… puts a real poison pill in this bill for consumer advocates such as myself,” Polis said. “Many consumers won’t be unlocking their phones themselves. There needs to be a market in unlocked phones.”

For those unfamiliar with the battle, up until January 27, 2013 US consumers were permitted to unlock their phones under an exemption created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But that exemption expired last year, making the process illegal.

The move has been panned by consumers, who collected more than 100,00 signatures for a White House petition to make unlocking legal, as well as the FCC chairman, but until this bill was written, the issue had received very little attention in Washington.

We’ll let you know when (or if) the bill makes its way to the Senate Floor.

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  • Noah Mospan

    Finally, a good bill.

  • @dappa_yute

    finally …

  • on3simpleclick

    Seems like a good step in the right direction.

  • Burge

    Thank god I live in the UK

  • Roboter

    Good one :)

  • Rowan09

    This is good but a little late. I use to unlock phones but take a look at how much it costs to unlock an iPhone now? AT&T & others made it almost impossible to unlock phones now, especially at a reasonable price. An iPhone unlock use to cost me $2 now it’s almost $60 just to use the service which might not work. Capitalism is something else. The bill should state telecoms should allow subscribers to unlock their phones from third party services at a reasonable price. AT&T especially is why the price to unlock went up so high.

    • felixtaf

      Reg ATT, they changed their unlocking policy. Which makes unlock either impossible or extremely difficult to get it. Like iPhone, Lumia unlock used to be 5$, but I paid 43 $ to unlock a phone I had for about 5 months (could get the code).

      • Rowan09

        I know they killed the smaller businesses. Smh. I signed the petition as soon as they passed this stupid law.

      • felixtaf

        True… I use to make little money with that. Now getting nearly half of what I used to make.
        Slow iPhone sales, Verizon/unlocked used phones are expensive, att phones are cheaper but cannot unlock or unlock is expensive (at one point it was 125$, now gone down to 60$) etc are the reason..
        Meanwhile, you can unlock any Samsung, LG and Moto phones for cheap…

      • Ali

        If you need a cheaper iPhone unlock price, let me know.

      • Rowan09

        What’s your price?

      • Ali

        $40 Out of Contract. $45 In-Contract.

      • Rowan09

        For iPhones?

      • Rowan09

        Not bad. Do you have a website and are those prices for any iPhone? What’s your turn around time also?

      • Ali

        Contact me on Skype, and we can talk more: P4k786

      • Rowan09

        AT&T knows the iPhone is there money maker so they try to regulate as much as possible. I read before that Verizon iPhone 5+ are unlocked for international usage. When they signed the deal to get LTE on their network, it was a part of the deal to make the phones unlocked.

      • felixtaf

        I signed that too brother… Hoping for the best…

    • PoodleSheep

      Going to a page on AT&T’s web page, putting in the appropriate information, hitting submit, and getting an email shortly afterwards saying your device has been unlocked is impossible? Interesting… I just did that the other day with my AT&T iPhone, but I guess iTunes must have been lying about my phone being unlocked.

      • Rowan09

        No you can request an unlock from AT&T if your a customer and have a phone that’s out of contract or you had the phone for a year. I don’t have them anymore so the rules changed since I had them last year. If iTunes says it’s unlocked then it’s unlocked, AT&T does the initial process but iTunes does the final stage.

      • Rowan09

        iTunes does the final step so if it says your phone is unlocked even with another carriers sim, it’s unlocked.

  • Palmer Paul

    @CodyLee 10,000 or 100,000 signatures? The comma placement is incorrect.

    • felixtaf

      Its 100,000. He missed a ‘0’ there.

  • felixtaf

    Hurray……… Am really glad about this… This will steady my small business… Am so glad to hear this.. Thanks to everyone who put their effort on this!!!!

  • Ted Forbes

    Yeah this really is a somber story. This unlock block by the major networks sure did toss a wrench in the engine. I use to unlock dozens of US Carrier iPhones I am yet to unlock just one so far for the year.

    Unlocking iPhones was working out to be a major part of my business and now its nothing much to write home about. We are at the mercy of the bill.

    • Rowan09

      So true, I had and still have the same issue.

  • Royce Otero

    Good thing I have verizon. My 5s already comes unlocked.

    • Rowan09

      Is that confirmed? I really want to know from someone with a Verizon 5/5s. I know it’s suppose to be only unlocked for international usage though.

      • felixtaf

        Yes… All 4G phones from Verizon are GSM unlocked.
        Althugh the 4G band is locked to verizon. U can get 3G/HSPA. MY last iPhone was a Verizon iPhone 5. I have used Verizon Moto Razr Maxx, Note 2 etc on GSM wihtout any modifications!

      • Rowan09

        In the US?

      • felixtaf

        Yes they do work in US. I have read in threads. Even iDB posted about that!

        idownloadblog DOT com/2012/09/21/verizon-iphone-5-unlocked-att/

      • Rowan09

        Ok cool.

      • Royce Otero

        So that’s why I don’t get lte? Cause it still locked

      • felixtaf

        I think its either locked or different LTE bands than ATT & TMobile. I read somewhere that the LTE bands are locked by verizon. Dono if thats true. But the fact is, you wont get LTE!

      • felixtaf

        Onlineunlocks DOT com is reliable. I have been using this guys service for about 5-6 months. Have a look. He will refund if code not found! Unlocked my ATT lumia 920 from him!

      • Rowan09

        I use unlockcodesource dot com.

      • felixtaf

        Thanks. I will check them too.

      • felixtaf

        @Rowan09:disqus @tes4bz:disqus If yu are in device unlock and resale business, I suggest you to get Pegasus box (for samsung) or Octopus box (many manufacturers based on subscription). I have Pegasus box ans using it for most Samsung models (although latest model support s lacking).

      • Rowan09

        I’ll have to check those out.

  • Rowan09

    I know. You have to do a request online now but the issue isn’t really with them totally but they blocked third party unlocks last year. The big sentence in that policy is the phone must be paid in full. My brother bought a phone last year that’s wasn’t lost or stolen and they told him it couldn’t be unlocked because it’s still in contract. In the past you get 5 unlocks a year as long as your bill was current the process was painless through customer service.

  • Antzboogie

    Very happy the peoples voices were heard.

  • shkelqim

    please can someone tell me what is goin on right here.. !! im albanian
    sorry formy bad englisht.. can someone please tell me can my iphone be unloced by himself or what.. i need a serious question dude.. and belive me i’ve been searching for a year to unlock my fuckin’ device please someone give me a serious question