Earlier this week we reported that the White House had officially responded to the petition to make cell phone unlocking legal in the United States. After just a few days, we are already seeing the first bill proposals arrive to resolve the issue.
Talk about quick turnaround. Up until now, most of the petitions to have surfaced on the White House website were less than serious, such as the plan to build a full-sized Death Star inspired by Star Wars. This time around, things seem to be different.
The White House response concluded that allowing consumers the choice to unlock their devices is important to protect consumer choice and is largely common sense. So far we’ve seen several lawmakers express interest in passing legislation to legalize cellphone unlocking including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Rep. Jared Polis, Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
Talk is great, but what about actually presenting legislation?
Senator Amy Klobuchar has stated she plans to introduce a bill sometime this week to address the issue, and Senator Ron Wyden has officially moved forward and proposed a bill that will allow consumers to unlock cellphones for use on other networks.
The Wireless Device Independence Act of 2013
“You bought it, you should be able to use it. My Wireless Device Independence Act ensures you can unlock your device,” said Senator Ron Wyden yesterday, via Twitter.
If Wyden’s proposal were to pass through it would amend Section 1201(a)(1)(B) of Title 17 of the United States Code, which deals with circumvention of copyright protection systems. The new change would make it possible for any wireless device that connects to the Internet to be switched to a different network through legal unlocking. As you probably figured, that includes tablets.
Wyden’s bill would require you to meet three conditions, though:
- The unlocking software you are using needs to be obtained legally.
- The unlocking software can only being used to connect to a new wireless network.
- The user must be authorized by the new carrier to connect to the new network.
If you’ve unlocked your device since the day unlocking first became illegal (January 26th), you’ll be happy to know that if Wyden’s bill goes through, your actions while be considered completely legal and valid.
The support is there for legalizing the unlocking of wireless devices
Whether its the “Wireless Device Independence Act of 2013”, FCC action or any other of the vague methods mentioned in the official White House response to the petition behind all of this talk, one thing remains clear: support for legalization of unlocking is there.
It won’t happen overnight, but it seems very likely that the day will come that the whole issue will be laid to rest for good. What do you think of Wyden’s proposal and the whole unlocking issue?