The House unanimously passed legislation Friday to legalize cell-phone unlocking, which would make it easier for consumers to switch providers without buying a new phone.
President Obama issued a statement saying he will sign the legislation into law.
“The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget,” he said.
The House already approved a similar bill in February, but that version included controversial language to keep people from unlocking phones in large batches. Consumer groups and many Democrats rallied against the provision, saying it undermined the bill.
The Senate approved a version of the bill earlier this month without the ban on bulk unlocking. The House then agreed to pass the Senate’s version of the bill.
“This is something that Americans have been asking for and I am pleased that we were able to work together to ensure the swift passage of legislation restoring the exemption that allowed consumers to unlock their cell phones,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said in a statement.
Most contract cell phones come “locked” to one network. Because of a decision by the U.S. Copyright Office in 2012, customers must obtain their carriers’ permission to legally unlock their phones to switch to competitors — even after they have completed their contracts.
The decision prompted an immediate public backlash, and more than 114,000 people signed a White House petition in protest.
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act would overturn the office’s decision and would direct the office to consider whether to allow unlocking of other devices, such as tablets.
Consumer groups such as Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation support the bill, although they have also pushed for broader legislation that would amend the underlying copyright law.
The Copyright Office is set to update its rules on cell-phone unlocking anyway next year.
CTIA, the lobbying group for cell-phone carriers, argues the issue is overblown but backed the bill, saying it would at least “relieve consumer confusion.”
Under pressure from the Federal Communications Commission, all the major carriers already signed on to a commitment last year to allow their customers to unlock their phones.
What We're Following See More »
"Two Republicans intimately familiar with Bill Kristol’s efforts to recruit an independent presidential candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have told Bloomberg Politics that the person Kristol has in mind is David French -- whose name the editor of the Weekly Standard floated in the current issue of the magazine.
French is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the website of National Review, where French is a staff writer, he is a constitutional lawyer, a recipient of the Bronze Star, and an author of several books who lives in Columbia, Tenn., with his wife Nancy and three children."
California Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Hillary Clinton today, calling her "the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump." While praising Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign, Brown said "Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee. ... This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun."
In a New York Magazine profile, Hillary Clinton said she still encounters misogyny at her own events: “‘I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "One of the things that I’m hoping, I and my colleagues have been trying to convince Senator Marco Rubio to run again in Florida. He had indicated he was not going to, but we’re all hoping that he’ll reconsider, because poll data indicates that he is the one who can win for us. He would not only save a terrific senator for the Senate, but help save the majority. ... Well, I hope so. We’re all lobbying hard for him to run again."