Unlocked-iPhone 4S

Earlier this year, a DMCA exemption expired, which made unlocking your iPhone not only illegal, but also punishable by a $500,000 fine, five years in jail, or both.

Today, Congress passed a bill that makes unlocking your phone without permission from your carrier legal. The bill was first unanimously passed by the Senate a couple of weeks ago, and the policy was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives this afternoon. The last step is for President Obama to sign the bill, which will officially turn it into a law.

The legislation approved by the House Friday, which the Senate unanimously approved last week, reinstates a 2010 rulemaking by the Librarian of Congress so that consumers can transfer, or “unlock,” their cell phones without running afoul of copyright laws. It also directs the Librarian of Congress to consider whether other wireless devices, like tablets, should be eligible for unlocking.

As it stands, this bill does not fix the issue permanently. If anything, it only governs the Library of Congress to allow users and third party companies to legally unlock devices acquired from a carrier without breaking copyright laws. The Library of Congress will examine the legislation in 2015 and tri-annually after that to ensure that the law is still relevant. However, due to huge backing of the bill by not only the public but the unanimous vote of the Congress, the chances of the new rule being revoked anytime soon are slim.

The results of this policy largely affect carrier competition and the freedom of consumers to use their devices on whatever carrier they choose. This liberty works to encourage competition among cellular carriers in terms of network quality, availability, and price, as customers won’t have to buy a new phone when switching carriers.

[Press Release via The Verge]

  • Eric

    C’MON OBAMA!! IT’S DOWN TO YOU!!!

  • thomas

    now time to make jailbreaking legal

    • Umut Bilgiç

      Isnt it legal already?

      • RaviS13

        yup jailbreaking is already legal in US

      • Not for jailbreaking iPads…

      • coLin

        true

      • Yep, believe it or not as far as Obama is concerned if you jailbreak your iPad it’s a fast track to an all expenses paid prison…

      • coLin

        That’s why I gave up my iPad for a 2012 MacBook Air.
        (Because of iPad’s limitation without jailbreaking)

  • Jacob S

    So more cheap unlock listing on ebay will be back 🙂 I remember unlocking my friends iPhone for $3 on ebay

    • Bugs Bunnay

      I remember getting it for 8, but it was far earlier on and it was better than getting those unlocking sims. what i’d like to see is more unlocking service for sprint locked iphones

      • Jacob S

        Oh I didn’t know that sprint iPhone are locked. I thought cdma versions sold is US are already unlocked for international GSM use.

      • coLin

        Just Verizon iPhone 5, 5C and 5S are unlocked for GSM

      • Jake1047s

        So are the sprint 5’s 5C’s and 5S’s but Sprint is the only one that will unlock it for international use, after 12 months of good bill payment, You can unlock with your own software but there hasn’t been that many announced that work but the Sprint iPhone’s are GSM capable

      • coLin

        They all are GSM capable. Just make sure to call Sprint before your contract expires and have them unlock it. It should be free. Same with all carriers

  • Jonathan Ramirez

    Pls make iPad jail breaking legal again.

  • Donovan

    Locking (smart)phones, didn’t know that stuff still happened.

  • Tom

    America…

  • moadh

    woah.. so this means now we have to pay nothing to unlock an iphone? 🙂

    • Burge

      No. It just means you can with out any law breaking. Someone is going to have to pay for some sort service.

  • ryan

    alot of people gonna go to jail because theres alot of people who jailbreak