A group of US Senators, including Al Franken and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have introduced a bill that would restore rights to unlock phones after a contract has expired. Called the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, the legislation would undo a Library of Congress ruling from last year which stripped unlocking protections from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Beyond Franken, other politicians behind the bill include Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
“Right now, folks who decide to change cellphone carriers are frequently forced to buy a new phone or risk the possibility of criminal penalties, and that’s just not fair for consumers,” says Franken in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will quickly allow consumers to unlock their current phones instead of having to purchase a new one. I support this commonsense solution to save consumers money.”
Political backing for unlocking gained some significant momentum last week when President Obama’s administration answered a petition on the topic, expressing its support. Even cellphone carriers have begun to respond to public opinion, namely AT&T, which has said it will unlock phones at the end of their associated contracts.