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Cell Phone SIM Unlock Bill Just Steps Away from President’s Desk

For all those who believe that Cinderella stories don’t actually exist, I guess I can safely say that you are dead wrong. For the past year and a half (give or take a few months), there has been a push by the people of the United States to try and fix one of the many things that are wrong with the country. I’m not talking about Healthcare or firearms regulations, but one issue that is far closer to home and affects us and what we do here on XDA directly. In case you are not familiar with what went on over the last year and a half, let me brief you in a bit. XDA-Developers has been an avid supporter of certain groups, including the FSF and EFF in particular, during the fight against the specific sections in the DMCA that deal with cell phone SIM unlocking. Back in October of 2012, the Library of Congress (with the push of a lobbyist group known as CTIA) essentially made a monumental mistake by removing an exemption from the bill that allowed people to legally SIM unlock their devices. This consequently pretty much went against what every other country in the world does in this regard.  A petition made it to the White House, which gathered well over 110,000 signatures. At that point in time, there was no clear cut answer from the government regarding what, if anything, they intended to do.

Fast forward to March of the following year (2013), when SIM unlock regulations were already under way. It was officially illegal to unlock a device–at least, it was no longer a protected practice under DMCA. However, not all hope was lost, as it seemed that some people in Washington DC did take the petition seriously and decided to do something regarding what is otherwise the denial of full ownership of personal property. But the issue is that, again, certain groups tend to have a bit more weight than others on Capitol Hill. Because of this, what congressmen considered to be a full effort on their part to make things right with the general public not only fell short from its intended target, but in fact it gave even more power to the likes of the carriers and manufacturers over the products that we purchase. From that point on, it has been a constant battle between members of Congress to try and come up with a feasible enough solution that would make everyone happy. This is not exactly an easy task, mind you. A lot more effort went into the bill. And by providence of Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte, the bill transformed, over the following year, into something far more tangible that actually had us, the people, in mind.

This past Friday shows and marks the result of a long year of hard labor, in which a new bill named Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act was unanimously passed by Congress. This bill is now on its way to the President’s desk to become law. President Obama has already weighed in on the new bill, commending all those involved in the crafting, pushing, and supporting of this new bill that will essentially make technology ours once again. You finally have the right (once again) to SIM unlock your device to your heart’s content, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To quote President Obama:

I applaud Members of Congress for passing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. Last year, in response to a “We the People” petition from consumers across our country, my Administration called for allowing Americans to use their phones or mobile devices on any network they choose. We laid out steps the FCC, industry, and Congress should take to ensure copyright law does not undermine wireless competition, and worked with wireless carriers to reach a voluntary agreement that helps restore this basic consumer freedom. 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. I commend Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte, and Ranking Members Grassley and Conyers for their leadership on this important consumer issue and look forward to signing this bill into law.

This is a huge win–and again, something that skeptics in the audience can attribute to justice being served. Despite this not being a perfect world or a fairy tale, we live in a society where there is still some semblance of justice and common sense left in the right people. So, get out there and SIM unlock your previously locked device for once and for all. Do you hear that? It is freedom calling.

[A special thanks go to Sina Khanifar and Derek Khanna for fighting the good fight! Way to go guys, it would have not been possible without you!]

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