It’s no longer illegal to unlock your device in the U.S. As part of a controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it became illegal to unlock your device, which prompted plenty of consumer blowback. But more than a year later, President Obama signed into law the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. We’ve come a long way from the original petition that went up on the White House’s We the People site.
The White House says the petition accrued over 114,000 signatures—and that’s in addition to all the media coverage surrounding the ruling from last year. After passing through the U.S. Senate earlier this summer, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives. With Obama signing the bill into law, regular Joes like you and I (and third-party companies) can unlock a device that’s tied to a specific carrier.
With the previous law in place, carriers had the final say whether or not devices could be unlocked, and they typically only did so once a phone was entirely paid off or a contract was ended.
“As long as their phone is compatible and they have complied with their contracts, consumers will now be able to enjoy the freedom of taking their mobile service—and a phone they already own—to the carrier that best fits their needs,” the White House said.
It’s a win for now, but this ruling will actually be reconsidered again a year from now, and then once every three years after that. So enjoy unlocking your device for now, but it might not last all that long.