Unlocking Your Cell Phone Will Soon Be Legal

...but the rules are still murky
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2014 1:56 PM CDT
Unlocking Your Cell Phone Will Soon Be Legal
A new Samsung Galaxy S5 is displayed at the Mobile World Congress.   (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

The rules on unlocking your phone—allowing you to use it with any carrier—are hard to keep up with. Just two years after the US Copyright Office ruled that unlocking was illegal without permission from your carrier, Congress has turned things around again. Lawmakers have passed a bipartisan bill allowing the unlocking of cell phones, and President Obama is poised to sign it, USA Today reports.

Obama calls the bill "another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget." The White House had received more than 114,000 petitions seeking legalized unlocking. But that doesn't mean cell phone users have complete freedom, the Christian Science Monitor notes. Carriers can still ban unlocking within a contract period, and the case is set to be considered again by the Library of Congress next year. (More cell phones stories.)

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