U.S. Allows Unlocking of Cell Phones


On Friday, President Barack Obama gave the green light to unlocking cell phones by signing a measure into law, opening the path for every mobile phone customer in the U.S. to switch to carriers, they choose.

The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act were given approval by the U.S. Congress last month. The measure repeals a decision in 2013 by the Library of Congress, which made it illegal to unlock cell phones.

Technology entrepreneur and activist Sina Khanifar filed the We the People petition that was signed by over 120,000 people. That launched a huge movement for legalizing the unlocking of cellular phones in the U.S.

The mobile handsets sold by the majority of U.S. carriers contain a lock in the software prohibiting the user from changing the SIM card for a different wireless carrier.

The new measure allows users to disengage that lock and use a network of their choosing on their phone.

The decision by the government will help cell phone customers who travel frequently and do not want to worry about paying for roaming charges.

It will benefit the people who desire to switch their current network for another without the need of changing devices.

Bulk unlocking is prohibited. For example, unlocking many devices so they can be resold is not allowed.

Obama said the new law would give more choice and flexibility to ordinary Americans in their cell phone daily use.

Despite this ruling, makers of cell phones are not required by the measure to offer phones that are unlocked, nor are they forced to provide a service to unlock phones, unless a customer has a valid reason to have it unlocked. That could eventually lead to legal battles in the courtroom.

However, the White House remains optimistic that the new law will be a help to consumers.

A White House statement said that what happened in the end was a commitment by Congress that was bipartisan to solve the problem that has been affecting millions across the country.

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