House Faces Bill that Legalizes Smartphone Unlocking

By Grace Barry.

Yesterday a bill dubbed the “Unlocking Technology Act (UTA) of 2013” was introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). The bill would legalize cell-phone and tablet unlocking. Currently this is forbidden under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (DMCA) which was passed in 1998 when digital technology was in it’s infancy. DMCA was created in an effort to prevent copyright infringement via the internet.  The UTA would not only legalize unlocking cell phones it would make legal the act of “jailbreaking,”  which is currently illegal under DMCA.  In addition it would make legal the act of selling jailbreaking and unlocking software.

House_Bill_legalize_unlocking_jailbreakingThe push behind introducing the UTA was the notion that the DMCA has too long been a barrier to consumers, and does little if nothing to protect artists from copyright infringement. In addition Consumers and rights activists condemned the illegal unlocking law as many believe that it jeopardizes free expresion and scientific research, as well as hinders competition, innovation, and fair use.

Sherwin Siy, Vice President of Legal Affairs for advocacy group Public Knowledge, has agreed that the Unlocking Technology Act is a step in the right direction for consumers, he says,

“This bipartisan bill not only makes it clear that consumers can, of course, unlock their phones without fear of legal repercussions; it also addresses a longstanding problem with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),” said Siy in a statement. “For too long, the DMCA has been a barrier to consumers, educators, researchers, and others, in ways that don’t even protect artists.”

Of course, we need to wait to see if  the bill will pass.  Sina Khanifar, an entrepreneur who created a successful White House petition against illegal unlocking said,

“It’s definitely a really wide-ranging bill, but also quite a common-sense one,” says Khanifar. “So it’ll be interesting to see how hard it is to get things moving.” And urges people to “write their representatives in Congress, and sign a petition at his website, FixTheDCMA, to help ensure its success.”

This article paraphrases an article from

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