Great news for our cousins on the other side of the pond! President Obama has finally signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law, having seen it pass both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate with 100% unanimous approval. The bill finally restores the right for normal citizens to unlock their cell phones, including the iPhone, without having the carriers express approval.
Obama has long supported the act, which was originally introduced via a 2013 "We the People" petition that gathered more than 100,000 signatures calling for cell phone unlocking to be made legal. It first became illegal to unlock a cell phone in January of 2013, after an exception in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act expired, restricting U.S. customers from shifting their service to other carriers or using their devices abroad with local SIM cards.
The bill does not permanently legalise cell phone unlocking, however it does require the Library of Congress to put a temporary exemption back in place while it decides whether or not to extend it for renewal. The bill does give the Library of Congress the power to determine whether or not consumers have the choice to unlock their cell phone, and later next year the copyright office could restore the ban.
On Friday 31st July 2014, President Obama signed into law the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, and in doing so, achieved a rare trifecta: a win for American consumers, a win for wireless competition, and an example of democracy at its best -- bipartisan congressional action in direct response to a call to action from the American people.
Back in 2013 the Library of Congress ruled that unlocking cell phones would be illegal, unless carrier's give permission. Many petitioned this rule change and brought both sides together to fight for a bill that will give consumers the option to unlock their cell phones.
The White House will be holding a conference call on Tuesday with administration officials to discuss the new law and answer any questions.