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.