Al Franken and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have introduced a new bill that aims to make cellphone unlocking legal again. The new bill entitled Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act would allow cellphone owners to unlock their devices by themselves, or via a third-party. The bill was introduced after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the recent unlocking ban “raises competition and innovation concerns". The bipartisan legislation is also backed by 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," said Franken. "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."
Cellphone unlocking became illegal on January 26, 2013 when an exemption in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act which made it legal expired. Angry cellphone owners responded by creating a petition on the White House's "We the People" website. Both President Obama's administration, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) expressed their support of reversing the ban after the petition received over 100,000 signatures.