Unlocked-iPhone 4S

The Senate has passed a bill legalizing cellphone unlocking this week. The unanimous decision to pass the legislation, which was penned by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, came last night, and it will now move to the House and onto President Obama.

The bill reinstates a 2010 ruling by the Librarian of Congress so that consumers can ‘unlock’ their cell phones without worrying about copyright laws. It also directs Congress to consider whether other wireless devices, such as tablets, should be eligible for unlocking…

Here’s more from the press release (via The Verge):

The Senate Tuesday night unanimously passed bipartisan legislation authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that would restore the ability of consumers to more easily transfer their cell phones to other wireless carriers.

Approval of the bill comes just days after the Judiciary Committee unanimously reported it to the full Senate. Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined together last month to announce a bipartisan agreement on the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which they first introduced last year after more than 100,000 consumers signed a “We the People” petition calling for a change in cell phone unlocking law.

As it stands now, unlocking a mobile device hits a gray area in US copyright law. This practice is governed by anti-DRM sections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and in 2012, the Library of Congress decided to remove an exemption from the Act that made it legal.

This week’s passage comes a year after President Barack Obama announced support for an unlocking policy, and a few months after wireless carriers agreed to adopt it. It’s also very similar to a bill passed by the House in February, with the removal of a ban on bulk unlocking.

So while nothing’s official yet, it sounds like we are getting very close to new unlocking legislation here in the US, which is actually pretty big news for folks looking to take their current cell phone to another carrier, or planning to resale it on the secondary market. Stay tuned.

  • john diaz

    About time!

    • Antzboogie

      Thank you!! Finally we can unlock with no problem.

  • Jonathan Ramirez

    how about legalizing iPad jail breaking?

    • Gary32283

      It is legal to jailbreak

      • Not an iPad

      • Jonathan Ramirez

        It is not.

      • Antzboogie

        Of course its legal shut your mouth.

      • Antzboogie

        Yes, its legal.

  • unkown man

    another big reason not to JAILBREAK !!!

    • pegger1

      What reason is that?

      • I’m guessing he’s referring to the long defunct craze of unlocking iOS devices via software such as Ultrasn0w.

      • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

        Unlocking is not ideal to anyone most days when iOS is advancing to wifi and Bluetooth. What’s the point when you can make calls on the internet for free. All we need to do is make a world wide wifi network used by anyone from anywhere.

    • Victor

      Unknown man is just dumb.

    • Josh


    • Antzboogie

      Dumb ignorant comment. Jailbreaking is awesome and maybe you don’t know what Jailbreaking is so hush puppy.

  • pauleebe

    Congrats, we’re almost up to speed on where the rest of the world has been regarding Cell Phone unlocking years and years ago.

  • The title of this post really should read “Senate passes common sense”. Why unlocking was even illegal in the first place in the US (or indeed [Insert Any Place Here]) is beyond me…

    • jack

      one word: money

  • Rowan09

    All they did was resend a law they passed. I was hoping they forced all the carriers to make their phones unlocked, but then again that would take a lot of money away from third party companies.

  • Mark

    Would this apply to current phones or only new ones? For example once this passes and goes into effect, can I take my iPhone 5s locked to sprint to AT&T, Verizon or tmobile? Keep in mind the sprint iPhone 5s has all the bands the other carriers use.

  • Antzboogie


  • Gary LE

    But could’ve this be over ruled later on?