Obama Signs Bill ‘Unlocking’ Cell Phones into Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama signed a bill into law on Friday that made it legal for consumers to unlock their cell phone without permission from their wireless provider after their contract has expired.

The bill was approved by Congress in mid-July. It specifies that customers who unlock their cell phones without worrying about copyright laws. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who wrote the bill praised its passage last month, thanking the Republican-controlled House "for moving so quickly." The goal of the bill, Leahy said, is to allow consumers to use their existing cell phones on the wireless carrier of their choosing.

The move will increase consumer choice and promote competition in the wireless market.

Unlocking cell phones had been legal until a Library of Congress' Copyright Office decision in October 2012 made the practice illegal.

Jot Carpenter, Vice President of Government Affairs for CTIA - The Wireless Association, said on Friday that he welcomed the passage of legislation that promotes "flexibility" while avoiding new regulation on wireless carriers. He did note, however, that users must be aware that not all devices will necessarily be operable on all platforms as "carrier platforms and spectrum holdings vary."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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