Cell Phone Unlocking

Consumers should be able to choose to switch their mobile phones to a different carrier when their contract runs out. However, the anti-circumvention provision in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA) prevents people from breaking digital locks in order to access a copyrighted work.

The software on a cellphone is considered a copyrighted work. Therefore, consumers can’t unlock their phones in order to switch their phones to a different carrier.

Recently, the FCC and the President have made cell phone unlocking a top priority on the telecom policy agenda.

President Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law in August 2014, following unanimous support from the House of Representatives and the Senate. The bill allows consumers to "unlock" their cell phones so they can take a phone with them from one service provider to another.  

Public Knowledge is working to revise the DCMA in order to allow for cell phone unlocking.

To learn more:

Read and sign our petition about an existing comprehensive bill in Congress.

Read our blog post on the a recent phone unlocking bill in Congress.

Read our letter to Congress asking for a permanent fix to the cell phone unlocking problem.

Here are the PK experts on this issue:

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