The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Washington (AFP) — U.S. consumers will be allowed to unlock their cellphones and move them to a new carrier under a measure adopted Friday to fix a perceived glitch in copyright law.

The House of Representatives approved the bill unanimously one week after it passed the Senate, sending the legislation to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Under the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, users will be able to unlock handsets and switch carriers without fear of prosecution, provided any contract terms from the original sale are honored.

The law became necessary after the Librarian of Congress ruled that those who circumvent the software locking a mobile phone to a single carrier are violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, enacted to thwart piracy.

Obama said in a statement he would sign the bill.

“The bill Congress passed today is 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,” Obama said.

The copyright ruling generated a flurry of protests from civil liberties and digital rights activists last year.

Unlocking has been possible through requests to carriers, but those who did it themselves — a practice sometimes called “jailbreaking” — would be subject to prosecution.

More than 100,000 people signed an online petition last year asking the White House to support a revision of the law.

Senator Patrick Leahy, one of the sponsors of the bipartisan bill, said it “puts consumers first, promotes competition in the wireless phone marketplace, and encourages continued use of existing devices.”

Laura Moy at the consumer group Public Knowledge said the measure “will have other positive effects.”

“It will make it easier for consumers to switch from one provider to another, improving competition in the wireless market,” she said.

“It will improve the availability of free and low-cost secondhand phones for consumers who cannot afford to purchase new devices; and it will keep millions of devices out of landfills.”

AFP Photo/Frederic J. Brown

Interested in national news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni Thomas, center

A bombshell exposé by an award-winning investigative journalist takes a deep look into lobbyist and far right wing activist and conspiracy theorist Ginni Thomas, and the ties she has to people, groups – and money – that have or may have business before the U.S. Supreme Court, on which her conservative husband sits.

Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer asks point-blank. “Behind closed doors, Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is working with many groups directly involved in controversial cases before the Court.”

Keep reading... Show less

Judge Alexis G. Krot

Judge Alexis G. Krot shouted at Burhan Chowdhury, a 72 year old cancer patient whom local police cited for not maintaining his yard. “If I could give you jail time on this I would,” the Michigan jurist warned Chowdhury.

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t buy much more leniency in other courtrooms. In 2020, a judge in Pennsylvania sentenced Ashley Menser, a 36 year old in need of a hysterectomy for ovarian and cervical cancer, to a 10 month term.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}