New bill introduced that legalizes cellphone unlocking and more

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.