The United States Senate has passed a bill that legalizes cell phone unlocking after a similar bill was passed in the House of Representatives back in February.

Back in October of 2013 the Library of Congress ruled that unlocking iPhones purchased after January 2013 would be illegal. Many petitioned this new rule and pressured lawmakers to do something about the ruling. Eventually President Obama and even the new FCC Chairman urged Congress to pass laws that make cell phone unlocking (including the iPhone) legal.

The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, brought by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) reinstates the rule that would allow consumers to use their device on other networks by unlocking their device — whether on their own or by a third-party service. Unfortunately, similar to the House Bill that was passed a few months ago, it does not permanently legalize 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 new bill passed by Senate does include a provision that allows users to let other third-party services unlock the device, a change Public Knowledge group praised. The bill also removes the ban on unlocking phones “for the purpose of bulk resale” — which was included in the House Bill as well.

The bill is not a law just yet. Senator Leahy must coordinate with the House committee to ensure the bills are identical, and then it will go on to President Obama to sign.


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