Earlier this year the Digital Millennium Copyright Act became effective and one of its provisions is that it makes it illegal for anyone in the United States to unlock their phones. This means that if your device is SIM locked to a particular network you won’t be able to unlock it to use on other networks.
While the DMCA may have good intentions more than 114,000 people including the White House think that people should be given an option to unlock their devices. To address this concern four members of Congress have come up with a legislation that guarantees everyone the right to unlock their phones by amending the DMCA. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) have come up with H.R. 1892 otherwise known as the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013 which makes it legal to unlock devices as long as it does not infringe on copyright laws under the DMCA.
The Unlocking Technology Act comes after serious lobbying efforts by copyright activists Sina Khanifar and Derek Khanna. Their campaign to make unlocking phones legal started in January when the Library of Congress failed to exempt unlocking in the updated list of the DMCA.
According to Khanifar “This legislation substantively addresses the concerns of 114,000 Americans when they signed our White House petition which resulted in the White House reversing and endorsing phone unlocking,” wrote Khanna in an e-mail referencing a petition the pair opened to call attention to the issue. “It’s really quite an amazing step forward. Not only does it completely legalize unlocking cellphones, but goes the extra step of amending Section 1201 of the DMCA.”
The White House has expressed its support for the bill saying that the president will sign a bill that would make unlocking legal should it reach his desk.
A full copy of the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013 could be found here.
Unlocking phones is a common procedure for consumers to use the network of other carriers. There are various reasons why a person may want to unlock their device. They may be going on a trip outside the country and may want to save on roaming charges. This is done by simply inserting a prepaid SIM of the country they are visiting. There may also be times when certain locations are not covered by their carrier so to be able to stay connected they may use a SIM of another network on their device.