If President Obama signs a bill passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives this month, which he is expected to do, a ban on unlocking of cell phones will be lifted.
Silicon Beat’s Troy Wolverton succinctly explains the series of rulings and exceptions that have led to this opportunity to lift the current 2012 restriction that is intended to prevent consumers from unlocking their cell phones’ software without permission from their service carrier, therefore preventing them from using phones that they have purchased on different providers, at least legally. But, Wolverton writes, even if the ban is lifted through the passage of the current bill, the Library of Congress, which actually has control over this activity, through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, could potentially reinstate a ban next year.
Daily Tech points out that the Library of Congress also is expected to consider whether similar open unlocking should be applied to tablets.
Politico and other sites have remarked on the novelty of something getting done in Washington, DC. The site quotes President Obama’s official statement:
“The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice so that they can find a cellphone carrier that meets their needs and their budget.”
Cited benefits of the bill include increased competition between carriers, ease of switching for consumers, and increased and easier sales of second-hand phones. The last item may not only save consumers money and help lower-income people find devices they can afford, but keep more mobile devices out of landfills.
Kachina Shaw is managing editor for IT Business Edge and has been writing and editing about IT and the business for 15 years. She writes about IT careers, management, technology trends and managing risk. Follow Kachina on Twitter @Kachina and on Google+