US inches towards decriminalizing phone unlocking


America's legal prohibition on phone unlocking has inched almost imperceptibly closer to reform, as a watered-down House bill approaches some kind of Senate compromise, that might, in a couple years, decriminalize changing the configuration of a pocket-computer that you own.

Various proposals were raised, but thanks to ridiculous international trade agreements, some of the best proposals ended up on the cutting room floor. I spoke to two separate Congressional staffers who had written up bills to legalize phone unlocking, only to have their international trade experts come in and reject them as likely violating a whole bunch of secretly negotiated trade agreements (and you wonder why we're concerned about things like TPP and TTIP limiting Congress...).

It took about a year before the House finally came up with a bill that had some significant limitations and problems. Despite some last minute protests, that bill passed. Since then, there's been a fair bit of negotiating in the Senate, and it appears that a compromise deal has been struck that should, hopefully, finally legalize phone unlocking a year and a half later. The Senate bill is not perfect (almost no legislation ever is), but it's a big step forward in the right direction.

A Year And A Half Later, Unlocking Your Phone One Step Closer To Being Legal [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

(Image: First the phone needs to be "Rooted", Danny Choo, CC-BY)