In May of 2013, we talked about a proposed bill in the US, that would allow consumers the freedom to unlock their devices. Well almost a year later, we are talking about the same bill, only this time, it is no longer a proposal, it has passed through the House of Representatives. Though something this perfect is sure to come with a catch, and unfortunately it does, but how will this affect you?
Consumers have been asking for this to become a law for quite some time now. When we last reported, there were over 114,000 people who denounced a law that was passed in October of 2012. That group grew and petitions began, those very petitions got a response directly from the White House saying, "this issue is about the simple freedom to take your business where you please." No one could've said it better than that.
Now, we are one step closer to that dream, as the bill has passed through the House of Representatives. However, the wording has some who pushed for the bill, regretting that decision. Those people consist of Silicon Valley lawmakers and consumer rights activists, who are now on the other side of the Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. The complaints now consist of simply wording of the bill, which could mean a big deal when it comes to laws. The man behind the questionable wording is Rep. Bob Goodlatte(R-VA.). Goodlatte added a clause to the law, the wording of that clause refers to unlocking devices "for the purpose of bulk resale." There was no specification, as some laws have a vagueness to them, but it is assumed that Goodlatte was aiming at device resellers, and businesses that offer unlocking your device for a price.
You may have read that and had a similar reaction as I, which is I am not a reseller nor offering an unlocking service. I just want to be able to use my device as I please since I paid for it, so why does this matter to me? Well, it may not directly affect you, but the vagueness of the wording could leave some loopholes. The situation we most wanted to avoid with this law, was taking a phone from one carrier to the other if we decided to do so, and run into no problems at all. Well this is possible now, and whatever carrier you leave, will have to unlock the device for you so that you may leave.
The issue with the wording still remains however. The whole goal of the bill, is to allow us the freedom of doing what we want with our property, and any restriction on that seems to be a clear defiance of consumers rights. At least it is a start in the right direction, and the support from the White House makes it that much better for consumers. There still is the Senate who needs to pass the bill, and could change the wording presented by Goodlatte. We will just have to wait and see what happens.