Unlocking Cellphones Becomes Legal Again, Good News For iPhone, Galaxy Users

Aug 02, 2014 10:05 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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President Barack Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act on Aug. 1, a bill that resolves a number of legal issues under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that presented legal issues for consumers looking to unlock their phones.

The law repeals a decision by the Library of Congress, the official legal steward of the DMCA, to uphold a provision of the bill making unlocking mobile phones illegal, according to AppleInsider.com.

The Congress had exempted mobile phone unlocking in the past, but chose not to in its most recent review.

"This commonsense legislation ensured that consumers could transfer their phones between carriers, and that second-hand phones could be put to good use by new owners connecting to a network of their choice," the Obama administration said in a release. 

Consumers protested the decision, signaling their displeasure by obtaining 110,000 signatures on a petition to make unlocking legal once again through congressional action.

The passing of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act marks the first time such a petition has led to a legislative change.

Though the law makes unlocking legal, it doesn't direct wireless carriers to provide unlock codes without a legit reason.

For example, cellphone users who are still under a previously-signed service contract with the wireless provider have to satisfy the terms of that contract before being allowed to unlock their phone, according to the release.

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