Phone Unlocking Bill passes US Senate

  • 17/07/2014 AT 15:25 by It's a Gadget Staff
  • Mobile Phones, News

Girl PhoneThe US Senate has passed a bill that makes it legal for smartphone owners to unlock their phones to use on different networks, regardless of carrier approval.

It has been a controversial practice for some time. Phone unlocking in the past had to be done by carrier approval, something that many argued was a violation of the rights of the phone’s owner. If they bought the phone, they should have the right to use it as they choose.

That argument has now become the reality, after a law was voted on that puts control back in the hands of the consumer.

While it still has to be sent to President Obama for approval, that shouldn’t be a problem. Six months ago, he officially came out in support of the bill, and the changes it would make to the telecom industry.

Just like back in its original form in February, this version gained a great deal of support in the House. Only one change was made, which is unusual for most bills that can go through dozens of revisions.

The change was the removal of a portion original placed in to protect bulk resellers (Tracfone, StraightTalk, ect), by regulating the unlocking of those phones. But it was struck from the draft after it was argued that there should be no influence over who can and cannot unlock phones, and that it complicates what would be a very simple law, for little reason.

When Obama came out in support of phone unlocking, three separate bills were introduced. One proposed to keep things as they were until 2010, where unlocking was allowing only for connecting to new networks. It was proposed by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and ultimately found to be close, but not inclusive enough.

The second was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and would give the matter over to the FCC. They would be told to make carriers do it over the coming months. But however simple that sounds, it would raise a number of complications, such as having to go to the carrier for the unlocking. Which takes a step back from consumer control.

Third, we have the bill that passed. It was proposed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and offered the most direct options while still maintaining a clear message about copyright law and the ownership of phones by consumers.

So, there you go…we can now do what we should have been able to do from day 1.

Source: The Verge


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