U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced bipartisan legislation to allow cell phone unlocking so consumers can switch carriers while keeping their phones. The bill--the Wireless Consumer Choice Act--directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action to ensure that consumers have the right to unlock their phone. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
"Consumers should have flexibility and choice when it comes to their wireless service and they deserve to keep and use cell phones they have already purchased," Klobuchar said."This legislation will help allow consumers to unlock their phones. I will continue to work with my colleagues to promote policies to meet the needs of consumers and boost competition."
"Consumers shouldn't have to fear criminal charges if they want to unlock their cell phones and switch carriers,"said Lee. "Enhanced competition among wireless services is the surest way to increase consumer welfare."
"Consumers who have purchased a mobile device, and aren't bound by a service contract, should be able to use it on another network," said Blumenthal. "This legislation is common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring healthy competition in the market."
This week FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and the White House voiced their support for efforts to unlock cell phones to give consumers choice and increase competition in the wireless market. These announcements came after a decision was made by the Library of Congress to not extend the exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act permitting consumers to unlock their phones.
Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and chairs the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, and has been a leader in standing up for consumers and boosting competition in the marketplace. She authored legislation--the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act--to strengthen consumer protections in the wireless industry, including looking at allowing consumers to unlock their phones. Klobuchar has also pushed the FCC to examine the competitive impact on consumers from the wireless carriers' exclusive arrangements with cell phone manufacturers. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing with the FCC later this month which will be an opportunity for Congress to further examine the issue of consumer rights in the wireless marketplace.