Today, Rep. Suzan DelBene joined the leadership of the House Judiciary Committee in co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to restore consumers' ability to unlock their cell phones allowing them to switch from one wireless carrier to another. The bill also directs the Copyright office to determine whether similar treatment should be given to other wireless devices.
"If you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to unlock your cell phone without risking criminal or other penalties," said DelBene. "Letting people have the freedom to unlock their cell phones protects consumer choice and ensures we continue to have a competitive and fair marketplace."
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (H.R. 1123) restores the exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that permits consumers, once they have fulfilled their contractual obligation, to unlock their cell phones without the approval of their wireless provider. The DMCA rulemaking was announced in October and continued the exemption for cell phones purchased on or before January 26, 2013. The exemption was allowed to expire for cell phones purchased after that date. As a result, consumers purchasing phones after January 26th of this year are no longer able to rely on this exemption and Congressional action is needed to ensure that these consumers can unlock their phones without risking criminal or other penalties.
The other original co-sponsors are House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking John Conyers (D-MI), Representative Howard Coble (R-NC), Representative Mel Watt (D-NC), and Representative Ted Poe (R-TX).