The US President Barack Obama has signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law. Previously, unlocking your phone was considered as a violation of federal copyright law, although it was rarely enforced. Cell phone unlocking is particularly beneficial for customers who are frequent travelers and  wish to take their cell phones with them to another carrier to other countries and prefer to use the services of a local network instead of paying a premium for roaming charges. Though the law makes unlocking legal, it does not direct wireless carriers to provide unlock codes without a valid reason. Sneha Bokil is a tech enthusiast and is currently using Nexus 5X but she still treasures her Nokia N70 (M). Senate Passes Cell Phone Unlocking Bill, What Does It All Mean For You And Your Cell Phone Plan?
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act sounds like a mouthful, perhaps too much to care about, but it’s going to change the way you do business with your cell phone company. Before this law was amended, you could not switch phone companies and continue to use your cell phone from a different carrier.
This means wireless providers can treat you unfairly and do whatever they please, but if you are unhappy and want to switch services, you can’t take your phone with you, unless you want to go to jail. On February 25, 2014, the house passed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law. The whole reason unlocking cell phones became illegal in the first place has to do with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, specifically a part titled “Section 1201.” Instituted in 1998, the DMCA is poorly written and criminalizes seemingly unrelated acts, thus taking away consumer freedoms. According to Tim O’Reilly, “Section 1201 of the DMCA takes away critical rights from owners of consumer electronics. Since the Library of Congress is elected to protect the rights of everyday Americans, and not big corporate interests, they are fast to fight this off.
The CTIA gives another defense for keeping the ‘unlock’ law in place, warning that unlocked cell phones will increase the ease of stealing and selling smartphones. If you want to switch carriers for any reason at all, you can switch without buying a new phone. Those excited about the law changes can thank Sina Khanifar, the man behind the movement to stop the ban on unlocked cell phones. A clear improvement from before when cell phones were 100% illegal to unlock, there are still 5 key problems with the current unlock act. Since cell phone carriers seem reluctant to follow along with the new rules, the FCC is being pushed to continually check up on providers and see if they are making it easy for customers to have their phones unlocked.
Some service providers will still not allow you to unlock your device unless your service plan has spanned the entire 2-years and the contract is now expired.
While the new act asks the Library of Congress to make an exception and include other mobile devices in its law, as of now it does not. Anything that increases competition and makes customer retention more difficult is clearly not going to be loved and adored by any brand trying to make money and keep down costs.

Reminder: starting saturday, unlocking your phone will become illegal, Starting this saturday, january 26th, 2013, it will become illegal a carrier unlock on it to use on t-mobile will technically be breaking the law. Why unlocking your phone without permission will be illegal (and why you should care), After this upcoming weekend, you have to ask your phone and because unlocking policies contain restrictions and may not apply to all of a carrier's devices. Should it be illegal to unlock your own cellphone?, “if this is allowed to stand, then the answer is you don’t own your phone.” a white house petition oddly, this comes up just as i’m trying to unlock an old t-mobile phone for possible alternate usage. GAMINGWORLD - Unlocking a cell phone should be legal, white house says - Unlocking a phone allows it to be used on other networks, and the practice has been officially illegal since january. GAMINGWORLD - Reminder: starting saturday, unlocking your phone will become illegal - Starting this saturday, january 26th, 2013, it will become illegal a carrier unlock on it to use on t-mobile will technically be breaking the law. GAMINGWORLD - Why unlocking your phone without permission will be illegal (and why you should care) - After this upcoming weekend, you have to ask your phone and because unlocking policies contain restrictions and may not apply to all of a carrier's devices. GAMINGWORLD - Unlocking your phone still illegal while carriers meet “voluntary” rules - The guarantee signed in december should force the carriers to unlock phones, albeit only when a consumer has paid off his or her contract, and in many cases not until early next year. GAMINGWORLD - White house: mobile phone unlocking should not be illegal - The white house has already responded to the petition concerning unlocking mobile phones, and said that mobile phone unlocking should should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones.
GAMINGWORLD - Cell phone unlocking will be legal again - Back in october 2012, the library of congress, which oversees how the digital millennium copyright act (dmca) is enforced, ruled that cell phone unlocking without your wireless carrier's permission was illegal and congress should take to ensure. Consumers who are still under a previously-signed service contract with their wireless provider will still need to satisfy the terms of that contract before being allowed to unlock their device.
This new law allows users to ‘unlock’ their phones and take them over to any service carrier they want.
In order to use your phone through a different service provider you must have the phone unlocked. People that needed to unlock a phone for financial or travel reasons risked up to 5 years jail time doing so.
Even if your phone was fully paid for and your contract was canceled or no longer in effect, the phone was not to be unlocked and used through any other service. In 2009, Texas Instruments threatened to sue 3 different bloggers after they each wrote about ways you can “reverse-engineer” aTI-83 Plus calculator so that it runs a completely different operating system. One member of the Library of Congress spoke out about their decision to leave the law alone, Gayle Osterberg, said that her team of congress kept the cell law the same because they believed cell phone providers could be trusted to take care of when and when not to unlock their phones. Even though the law has now passed, he remains busy making sure that Congress renews the exemptions for tablets and other devices.
If on a whim you decide to travel abroad and unlock your own device, it is still considered a felony punishable with up to 5 years in prison. If a long and tedious process is asked of all customers that want their phone unlocked, this isn’t useful and shouldn’t be accepted. Every company is different; you will have to read the fine print to find out what your cell phone service offers (Read More).
Only phones can be unlocked, no smart watches or tablets are included in the current unlock bill.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that cell phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon were slow to come to an agreement about changing the law so that cell phones can legally be unlocked. The deal constructed stated that unlocked cell phones are legal, but they won’t come unlocked, instead customers have to ask their carrier to unlock the phone. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act is currently the reason that unlocking cell phones is illegal. Once upon a time it was legal to unlock your phone, but since 2012, unlocking your cell phone has been punishable by jail time. If unlocking is illegal, that means you can’t buy a Verizon iPhone and then use it at AT&T, even if you later switch to their services.
It’s become normal, but when you think about it it’s completely unfair, if you have purchased the phone it’s rightfully yours and you should be allowed to do as you please with it. From 2006 until 2012 the Library of Congress made an amendment in the law that allowed cell phones to be unlocked legally. There are so many issues with this law that there is an entire movement surrounding the need to fix the DMCA, hence how over 115,000 signatures were collected last year in protest. He also strives to make these measures permanent so that if one-year people turn a blind eye, cell phone companies don’t end up winning over the average American again.
Cell phone companies further negotiated that phones can only be unlocked after the contract is canceled or has come to an end.
President Obama calls the new law, “…another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, that that they can find a cellphone carrier that meets their needs and their budget.” He signed the bill into action and applauded Congress for their good work.
When you want it to do something more, you can’t modify it.” Many of these unwarranted bans come directly from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The strange thing is that in 2012 they decided not to extend the exception, causing quite a commotion. It is said that cell phone service providers were putting a lot of pressure on the Library of Congress to leave the law as-is, without the amendment from 2006-2012.
However, every three years, the Library of Congress can make specific exemptions to this law. This started a movement, which was able to collect over 114,000 signatures bound for the White House, in hopes of changing the law.
This way, cell phones would legally have to remain locked, an obvious upside for businesses like Verizon and T-Mobile. You only need 100,000 signatures in order for the White House to check into an issue and offer a response. Later that same year, in 2013, President Obama spoke publicly about the issue, and asked that the Federal Communications Commission change out the rules and give consumers back their right to unlock their phone.

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