Obama makes cell phone unlocking legal by signing change in Law

In a decision that could bring cheers to the faces of millions of mobile phone users in the United States, President Barack Obama has given his nod to a new cell phone law which enables their unlocking legal again.

The US President has finally sealed his approval to the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which was passed by the Congress unanimously last month.

The White House has hailed the new cell phone law, terming it “A rare trifecta: A win for American consumers, a win for wireless competition, and an example of democracy at its best – bipartisan congressional action in direct response to a call to action from the American people.”

Initiating a mass movement for the legalization of cell phone unlocking, technology activist and entrepreneur Sina Khanifar filled a petition “We the People”, signed by more than 120,000 people.


Notably, for getting a response from the White House, a petition should garner support of at least 100,000 signatures.

The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act repeals a 2013 decision of the Library of Congress that made unlocking of cell phone illegal, saying it violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Khanifar said, “I asked repeatedly for Congress to make the exemption permanent and Rep. Zoe Lofgren even introduced the excellent ‘Unlocking Technology Act of 2013′ that would have done just that. Unfortunately, Congress wasn’t ready to deal with passing a permanent exemption to the DMCA.”
Major US carriers sell cell phones that come with a software lock. The lock obstructs users from using SIM card of different service operator on the mobile phone device. Some of these carriers has the usual two-year contract imposed on the device but the customers complain they are unable to use their devices even after the expiry of the term period.

The US government’s decision will help those cell phone customers who frequently travel to other countries and don’t want to exhaust their hard earned money on roaming charges. The new law will also benefit those customers who wish to switch to another network keeping the same device.

Although the law is going to benefit to the consumers for huge extent, major cell phone manufacturers, especially the likes of Apple, are definitely not going to be happy at this.

There are also chances that this law may also result in hike in cell phone prices. Also there are rumors that Apple and other companies may release unlocked cell phones directly in the market from the first day of their launch in the market.



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  • StopthisBS

    Law for unlocking my foot. This will only hit the economy directly creating huge loses. Obama should’ve used his 2 cents somewhere else.

    • Parque_Hundido

      Will unlocking phones release demons that destroy the economy? Will they do battle with unicorns? Please explain your apparently insane comment. Are you just tea bagging here coz u don’t like the prez?

      • StopthisBS

        I am not saying it will destroy the economy but it will definitely cause a strong dent.. I remember a report published 2 years back in which it was stated clearly how bad is unlocking to the company’s like Apple. If Apple don’t earn then who will pay taxes to the country? It will definitely lead to huge loss.
        Yes I don’t like puppets like Obama who is only good at barking. Yes I appreciate him as a speaker but he is not more than a puppet. A president should behave like a president.. not as a speaker.

        • Stew javy

          Apple reroutes its income through companies in Ireland which thus allows them to pay almost NO taxes. So your claim is as bogus as the level of taxes Apple pays.

          • cthej

            I have no problem with that. There is nothing more American than making money. Taxing, on the other hand, brought about our revolution in the first place.

          • Stew javy

            It was taxing with no input from the colonists, and general dysfunction of governance. Besides how do you think the US government paid back the loans they took out to finance the war for independence?

        • RUkiddingme

          Reports are written by those with a stake in the issue. I guarantee there are plenty reports that can show no effect. Why are you so hung up on protecting the companies that are already raping consumers?

        • Nero

          You are an insane troll.

          • Parque_Hundido

            He’s just a teabagger who doesn’t understand mobile phones. And a troll.

          • StopthisBS

            Moron – Read my response to you –

            To you and all those ignorant people. Apple, Samsung or whatever company it is, they get paid whenever someone calls from the phone which is under contract by AT&T, Verizon or whatever company it is. It earns them more money than what they earn by selling. So stop pointing a finger towards me. I know what I am saying.

          • Parque_Hundido

            No, the manufacturers do not get paid every time someone calls. And there was no report. You’re lying and you’re not very good at it. Teabagger trash.

        • Jason Cline

          It only because illegal to unlock phones two years ago and we were happily exporting them at marked up prices all over the world to markets without easy access to a Mac store. The travesty was trying to regulate our commerce in the first place, This is a resounding victory and I don’t care that a communist president made it happen.

    • Jason Cline

      You have it totally backwards, go back to foxnews and ask them to explain it in a way you can understand.

  • Tiredoflisteningtohaters

    I think I know where the BS comes from “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which was passed by the Congress unanimously last month.”

    • Steve Benefield

      I can’t believe the amount of trogladite posts here. I’m no Obama fan, but back this law.
      I pay ungawdly amounts to my carrier, and when my contract is up, and my phone is PAID FOR IN FULL…they will not unlock it. Why? Because they believe they still own it…and if I sell it….they still own it. BULL!!! My being able to switch to TMobile after my contract with ATT is up will not sink the economy, and anybody who thinks so is a moron.
      Drive cell prices up? I think not. Both ATT and Verizon have recently LOWERED prices due to competition from the discount carriers, and I hardly think either ATT or Verizon have hit upon hard times doing so. I think some of the morons here should think it through….just because you unlock your phone does not instantly allow you free cell service…you still pay for service be it from one provider or another. Money is still being made, jobs still needed no matter which provider you choose.

  • yours_correctly

    this is a great step…. we hope such un locking law becomes common in other countries across the globe… locking phones is against competition and choice. it harms consumers….

    • StopthisBS

      Oh yeah? And what about the corporates who will face huge loss by such laws? This will effect the economy directly.

      • Parque_Hundido

        What corporates? What losses? Are you shrooming?

        • StopthisBS

          Apple, Samsung, Sony, etc they are the corporates. I’m surprised I needed to explain who are corporates.

          • truthheatseeker

            Send them a check if you’re so concerned. This is the free market at work for once.

          • RUkiddingme

            Those companies have already sold the phone. There is no loss. Think for a change and quit listening to the corporate lobyists.

          • truthheatseeker

            His account seems fairly new. I guess this story so incensed him that he signed up on disqus and had to comment…smells fishy.

          • Parque_Hundido

            You don’t have a clue what you’re saying. The carriers (Verizon, AT&T) lock the phones. The manufacturers ship them unlocked.

          • ghp2006


          • StopthisBS

            To you and all those ignorant people. Apple, Samsung or whatever company it is, they get paid whenever someone calls from the phone which is under contract by AT&T, Verizon or whatever company it is. It earns them more money than what they earn by selling. So stop pointing a finger towards me. I know what I am saying.

          • talaconheo

            FYI, those three companies you mentioned are the cell phone makers. They do not care if you unlock your phone or not. The one that care are service providers such as tmobile, sprint verizon…..

      • wellhayhay

        These companies pump out new phones every month and sales are driven by people’s wants, not their needs. They will be fine.

        • Bat284

          Yeah, come out with a Trogdor model and I’ll WANT. Try forcing me into some crappy walled garden and I’ll go next door.

      • Bat284

        Why should we reward anyone for their business model?

        That’s corporate welfare.

        This is a Win for consumers.

      • chopperpl

        Well, not necessarly. In europe most carriers give away unlocked phones, and they’re just fine…

      • Timothy Haug

        Huge losses from what? There is this thing called a cancelation fee that includes the cost of the phone. The fact that you can go from say t-mobile without having to buy a new phone would hurt neither computer.

  • yello

    “…passed by the Library of Congress..” really? i had no idea they made laws!

    • Tony May

      The Library was made the authority on determining exceptions to the Act. The article is referring to a “decision” made concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

  • loneappdev

    What this will affect is carrier-provided subsidies for post-pay plans. So, those of you who want to pop in to a Walmart to pick up an iPhone on the cheap will find those options quickly disappearing. You’ll have to pay more for the phone and get a reduced, or no subsidy. The only other way around it will be for carriers to break out the cost of the phone as a loan, but now with interest. The pre-pay market will really take off after this (TracFone… they’re in for some pain with their locking model).

    But, hey – if you can’t afford an unlocked phone, you probably shouldn’t be buying one anyway. You should be sending your money to Obamacare.

    • Tony May

      But it should also affect the cost of the service plans too.

      The reason you can get a phone subsidy is because they make it up on the profits from the service plan. So companies will be able to reduce service plan prices and not affect profits.

      This has the “flavor” of the deregulation of phone services in 20-30 years ago. Right now with the way the cell phone is, you are locked in with a single provider. By removing that impediment, the consumer has increased choices. For companies to retain consumers, they have to shift. Partly due to lower prices and partly due to better service.

      I currently do not like the current model. I don’t want the company to be buddy-buddy with me at first with a reduced entry price and then seemingly ignore me while they go on to the next guy to try to entice him. I want a long-term business relationship built on trust and honest prices. But hey, that’s just me.

      I am looking forward to new landscape.

    • Parque_Hundido

      You’re already paying for the phone. This just means that when you buy it, it belongs to you. No difference at all.

    • Steve Benefield

      What “subsidies”? You REALLY think Apple is losing money when you sign a contract??? That they are giving you a discount out of the goodness of their charitable little hearts? Grow up, or wake up.
      You are paying off a loan NOW, paying interest NOW. The only thing that will change is contract wording, and the fact that you will be able to choose a different carrier when your contract/loan is up.
      You will still be under contract until the phone is paid for, no matter what the wording or if you change carriers the next day.
      Who it WILL help is those who promised excellent service in their remote area….only to find out it is roaming only. It WILL help those who pay the same full contract amount for service after their phone is already paid for.

  • Kablooy

    It’s good that they ruled in this manner. More freedom is a good thing. Making it illegal to “unlock” your phone is like Dodge making it illegal for us to put different wheels on our truck or change the paint job.

  • N M Bhojraj

    This news is the best, otherwise Verizon and At&T were milking our hard earned money. I am only concerned that they will find other means to keep their belly filled

  • N M Bhojraj

    Better to have small fishes that one big fish, it was boring.

  • Tom Allor

    The reason for the short-time frame reviews is because the carrier
    lobbyists are in control and want to see if their plans are going to
    make a good profit. Just recently most carriers have went to BYOP
    (bring-your-own-phone) pricing. If this doesn’t work out for them (i.e.,
    big profits), they will force the law to be cancelled. Now that most
    people have cell phones, there is no money in selling phones – the
    carriers make their money from selling plans. This is a perfect example
    of a law created by lobbyists, for the lobbyists masters, – not for the

  • rbag

    Why “Obama makes cellphone unlocking legal”, is it not Congress that did, and the President, as he usually does, signs the bipartisian bill? Would a better headline not be “do nothing Congress finally acts?”

  • David Gurney

    What do you want to bet that this law says AFTER the contract is up? Which is stupid, just as locking phones is stupid. The carriers actually BENEFIT if you take your phone to another network while under contract: You still have to pay them (per your contract), but you’re not using their network resources anymore.

    This entire locking regime is as stupid as broadcasters’ lawsuit against Aereo.

  • JPL

    I just tried to have mine unlocked by ATT to take it over seas but they said my contract still had two months on it so they said no. It’s a pain, but I kind of get it. If they subsidize your phone, either you will pay full price with no contract or the breakage/unlock fee will cover the balance. Unless you take older phones. Am I missing something?

  • debby

    obama needs to unlock his records!

  • Bo Hart

    Must be another way for the gov’t to get into our cell phones