Unlock your phone legally starting today

President Obama to sign phone unlocking bill into law
By Joseph Keller on 1 Aug 2014 02:56 pm EDT
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President Obama will today sign a bill into law that will allow American citizens to legally unlock their phones in order to take them to another cellular carrier, either in the United States or abroad. The President announced his intent to sign the bill last week. The new law is only a temporary measure, and is only valid until 2015.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill last week, after it had previously been passed by the Senate, and both chambers passed the bill unanimously. The unlocking a phone while still under your carrier's contract has been technically illegal in the United States since the beginning of last year. Now, if your phone is capable of being unlocked, and you have complied with your contract, you will be able to unlock your phone.

How do you feel now that phone unlocking is once again legal? Sound off below in the comments.

Source: The White House

Reader comments

Unlock your phone legally starting today

182 Comments

How do I feel about it? If you own your phone outright, it is great that folks do not have to purchase the unlock codes when they can get it from their carrier for free.

TM now has on 'your account' options section a link that says:

"My Phone"
"Check device unlock status"
PHONE UNLOCKING
Status: Locked/Unknown
Your device is eligible to be unlocked.
Contact us to request unlock steps for your device.

Oh? What prize did you miss out on?

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

Humiliation by F.A.I.L.

And possibly QS repercussions... ;-)

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

That fool should focus on more important things than stupid phones. I wonder if this will actually be pro the people or will be used to take away more rights, more anti privacy crap or anything else that is unconstitutional.

Posted via CB10

Theres more than two sides to every issue. The dichotomy of american politics is such a joke

Posted via CB10

Agreed and the "2" sides in DC and a lot of states are on the same team. Grassroots is the only thing that can save us worldwide. But only if enough people wake the heck up. People trash us politics on here as well they should, but the rest of the world is just as bad. Slimy greedy elitists worldwide.

Posted via CB10

Politics suck now. It seems the more corrupt you are the more likely you will succeed now. This 2 party system is starting to show its flaws. Neither side really wants to help the people, they only care about helping themselves get power...

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

Yeah. He used the buzz words/phrases, like "take away more rights," "unconstitutional."

I'm surprised he doesn't mention "taking America back!"

Yep, they are only buzz words. Just ignore all of it and live your life in bliss. :-)

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

Dying to know what rights have been taken away from you?

I see your avatar is the 9/11 tribute. Were you angry at the Bush administration for having knowledge about an imminent attack on American soil? Or were you living a life of ignorant bliss because we know Republicans never make mistakes!

@SK

LMAO, so cute that you take sides. So if Bush was president, you'd be all over the comment about rights being taken away, but now that it's a politician on the side you agree with, it's ok. HAHAHA. Hey man, I'm going to give you some advice that will make you a much wiser man. ALL POLITICIANS, NO MATTER WHAT PARTY THEY BELONG TO, ARE SCUM... You're welcome dude. :-)

@SK

And if you want specifics about what is going on now, how about the White House trying to ban news organizations from their press conferences if they are biased for the conservatives (don't fool yourself, EVERY news station is biased. I find it hilarious that everyone only picks on one simply because it's the only one that's not liberal biased... They ALL suck, I don't like ANY of them, they ALL are pushing their agenda down our throats), the IRS auditing people who they consider are "patriots" and who openly oppose Obama or the Democrat party, then their harddrives magically all fry the moment the court hands them a subpoena to find out if the orders to do so go up the chain of command, NSA spying used for political and financial reasons, instead of for terrorism (pretty much all confirmed thanks to leaks and a whistleblower), federal resources used to disrupt businesses that openly support the Republican party (go look up the 100% unjustified federal raid on Gibson Guitars, it was purely to disrupt their business. In the end they pretty much admitted they did nothing wrong, but the damage was already done).

Seriously, stop being so naive, stop ignoring all of these red flags just because they agree with your political views. That's pretty darn childish. Realize that ALL politicians, no matter what they claim they support, they are not out to help anyone but themselves... It's perfectly fine to pick a side to vote for, we are kind of forced to do that. But vote for the person you think who might do something that you agree with, but know that he/she's not doing it for the same reason you want it done, he/she is doing it because he/she thinks that is how they'll get more votes and more support so they can obtain more power. Stop believing in politicians and looking up to them...

Wow, and here I was trying not to tell TOO much of the truth in one sitting lol. Bravo to you sir. If people would only open their eyes and see just how deep the corruption really goes. They won't Cuz then they might have to take back all those tin foil hat comments.

Posted via CB10

I'd say read through the ndaa act and patriot acts for starters for those that want to see recent stripping of rights. Pure evil. Here's a hint, the war on terror is nothing but a sham to get people to agree with the powers that be and their illegal wars. It's all about control and money. Nothing else. Look at isis as it is now and realize the us government along with the brits and several others are funding terror. Those guys used to be Syrian rebels or so they would have you believe. Letting me legally unlock my phone in light of just those few examples really doesn't impress me at all.

Posted via CB10

Of course. Once your phone is unlocked the NSA can see and hear everything on your phone. There's a small footnote at the bottom of the bill that allows them to do that. Lol

Posted via CB10

LOL! This is funny. My bad always asks me to buy and send him phones buy I tell him it's not that easy

Finally posted from my BlackBerry Z30

It's weird, illegal or legal, we were always able to unlock our phones, just have to pay for it...

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

Wait...

What's gonna happen when the lawful period runs out? Everyone who's still on an unlocked phone or unlocking it then will get locked up themselves? Or what? :-)

It's a pretty farcical situation they're creating...

Powered by Greed (TM)

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

Like I just said, we were always able to unlock our phones, even when it was "illegal." It's pretty much a law nobody enforced...

They do this so in 2015 they can have more feel good bulls hit to lay upon the masses.

Brought to you by my: Z30 (STA100-1FTW) / Z10 (STL100-3) / Q5 (SQR100-1) / Q10 (SQN100-1)

Are you listening Canada? There should never be restrictions unlocking a phone that I bought and paid for full price. I also can't believe Obama did something that seemingly helps the little guys for once.

Sent from my Z10. Or was it my Q10? Either way, it was sent from an awesome phone.

Where's the weapons of mass destruction? Oh wait there is none. The war on Terror is such bull, never bringing our troops home and spending billions of our tax dollars so the govt can seize and control the oil overseas.

Posted via CB10

What choo talking about? I'm in Canada, I unlocked so many phones last month the unlocking service sent me an envelope of business cards and a certificate.

Just go online, DIY, very easy, usually cheaper than carrier unlocking.

I only paid $20 each to unlock my 2 Koodoo Q5's.

Posted via CB10

No idea what you are talking about, but it has always been legal to unlock phones in Canada. I'm actually surprised that it was ever illegal in the States.

Posted via CB10 on my Z30

I honestly had no idea, that it was illegal, to unlock your phone in the US. I know here in Canada, it's allowed on your Carrier contract, after 90 days.

I'm pretty sure it's not illegal at any time. It might be a violation of a civil contract, but not a criminal offense.

If you buy outright, you can unlock the minute you have it in your hand. Whether the carrier will provide the code for free is a different story.

Posted via CB10

This is good news, i mean seriously.. who wants to be stuck on only one carrier -____-

Pantless Nation 's very own Rookie of the Year!

No, it just means that you can do it without AT&T suing you and/or threatening you. They still don't have to give you unlock codes.

That would be the cheapest option. But if they're not willing to give you the code, no longer are you SOL, legally speaking. It will cost money maybe, but at least we have options.

maybe Obama is giving you a year to do the unlocking. So he is just giving you some buffer time to make the call to get it unlocked. Even if not a law next year, the new law won't make what you did last year a crime. So get moving everyone!!! :)

What about if you cart the phone across the border, unlock it there and cart it back?

See how comical that is? :-)

You haven't broken any law while being on US soil, and not committed any offense in Canada either...

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

AT&T was already pretty good about unlocking phones that go off-contract. Their website even automates the process so users don't have to take phones into a store. They unlocked my Bold 9900 with no questions.

How about.. the House couldn't pass an immigration bill yet they found time to pass a CELL PHONE BILL.

Where's your outrage about that?

My out rage about immigration is they should be securing the damn border and sending law breakers the hell back home.

Posted via CB10

Given that CrackBerry has an international readership could you mention the country involved in the header when the subject matter is country specific?

Merci, danke, gracias, thanks, grazie.....

I'll assume then that you mean "title", because the first two words that jump out of the article preview are "President" and "Obama", and these can be seen from the blog summary view without even having to click the article and read it.

I purchased phone outright from Telus and it was locked. Phones sold by carriers in Canada are locked whether contract or not. Not illegal but should be sold unlocked. All carriers do this to my knowledge.

Right, and this law does nothing towards that in the US. This just makes it legal to unlock phones without carrier permission.

What's always been surprising to me re: Canada is that your carriers charge you for unlocking phones. How is that fair, especially if you've bought it outright? I guess they can argue that you're under no obligation to buy their (locked) phones, but are there provisions in the contract that allow them to essentially keep a lien on your phone forever?

It is that if you have a contract with carrier then you can't unlock your phone for 90 days. Then if you want they will unlock for a fee or a third party. It isn't right. When you buy phones in Canada it is usually from a carrier even if best buy or future shop or source. So soon as the sim goes in it locks phone. Unless you unlocked the phone third party before sim. All phones should come unlocked in my opinion. Carrier unlocked. So any sim you choose to go with works.

What's the point of ratifying a bill that expires in 5 months????? And why does it expire in 5 months anyways??? What's going on Jan 1 2015?!?!?!?

Posted via CB10

This is the problem with Americans and politics. The media points to something and the people focus on... squirrel! Don't let the media guide you because it doesn't inform him properly.

This is a good thing! Don't gripe abouts it. Move on it or stand still. Do what you feel is in your best interest.

Z10 (STL 100-3) Superphone with vitamin 10.2.1.2179

It's about getting votes. They pass something and people assume they did something good for them. After the elections are done, the law expires.

This was one of the most idiotic laws in usa, along with ban of Kinder surprise...

Posted via CB10 on glorious Z10 powered by 10.2.1.3247

Why do you think the law's up for renewal in one year? But in all fairness, the telecom lobby probably pays both sides of the aisle.

I was too. I'm also surprised that they didn't somehow try to turn UNLOCKING into an "assault on freedom and American values" or something.

Oh, by the way, what's the difference to carrier - is phone locked or not?

I mean, you buy it with the contract and you have minimum payment for 1-2 years anyway.

So if my phone is unlocked and I move to another carrier, phone seller will still receive my payments.

Posted via CB10 on glorious Z10 powered by 10.2.1.3247

It was always legal to get the phone unlocked by your carrier. What became illegal was getting it unlocked with their permission. So if you had called TMO and they would have refused, you would have been SOL, legally speaking.

" Civil penalties are based on the carrier’s actual damages and any additional profits of the violator, or a court can award statutory damages of not less than $200 or more than $2,500 per individual act. Criminal penalties are even more severe: any person convicted of violating section 1201 willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain (1) shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and (2) shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense."

http://blog.ctia.org/2013/01/26/unlocked-devices/

But in reality, nothing.

If your carrier doesn't cough it up, yes. But at least now you can GET it without said carrier's permission.

Just our government, a good chunk of the people are good. For the record, if I characterized the morality of an entire nation based on what it's shit government does I'd hate everyone on earth pretty much.

Posted via CB10

I don't understand why an ordinary guy like me should worry about security /nsa, etc. I don't mind if someone spy on me. On a good note, I'm happy that he is getting paid to spy on me. :) Spying on someone to destroy his/her life is where I don't agree.

Posted via CB10

Just remember that just because it is now legal, carriers don't have to give you the code. At work today and nothing has changed at Verizon about unlock codes- you have a VZW phone, you're not getting it unlocked, contract or not.

Posted from my phone no one cares about on a network no one cares about.

Verizon band 13 LTE devices HAVE to come unlocked. If you are a Verizon Wireless employee, I'm surprised you don't know about this.

Finally. Canada got something to do with Cellphones BEFORE the USA. :).

Our law on this one was passed wilder this year. Means for me, I can get a SIM card from Roam Mobility and save big time when I go to the US.

Posted via CB10

From the carrier. But as a result of this law, you can now go to a third party unlocker and get it unlocked even if you're still paying the phone off.

Not sure what you meant about VZW not unlocking phones. My Z30 came from them unlocked. If they sell them unlocked why not unlock other phones?

Posted via CB10

Verizon claims they are unlocked but try and activate it on another network...it won't budge unless you reflash the software. I get about 1 call every 2 days asking for an unlock code...VZW doesn't allow it, it's coded directly into the firmware.

Posted from my phone no one cares about on a network no one cares about.

This is absolutely, 100% incorrect. LTE band 13 devices are required to be sold unlocked. Older, "world" phones, maybe, but I doubt you're getting "1 call every 2 days" about those types of phones.

Canadian here. Has been legal for a long time.

How did you even get Blackberrys in the US without unlocking?

-is baffled-

Posted via (hopefully) a passport A10

Well its not like our carriers never ever sold BB10 phones. They did, and except for Verizon's, they're locked unless they were unlocked at some point (or bought factory unlocked elsewhere.)

If I buy a phone full price without subsidy, it is my property and I do with it as I please.
The car stealership cannot tell me either what roads I can travel on after I buy it.
I unlocked my Z10 last year after I bought it full price and without contract extension.

Posted via CB10

Seems kinda stupid that a law has to be passed on something as simple as a phone and a carrier lock.

I understand the concept of a contract and being locked into the contract, but for cellular carriers to software lock your phone is ridiculous.

I unlocked my Z10 a month ago, after finding a reasonably priced service and I plan on never again buying a locked phone or locking into another 2 year jail sentence with Rogers or anyone else.

Posted via CB10

Yes! As a principle, unlocking a phone should be an option for the consumer. However, I expect companies to devise incentives for consumers to keep their phones locked.

Posted via CB10

You can use it on AT&T, and also overseas with a local SIM. so if you have a TMO Z10 or a Q10, it is 100% network compatible with AT&T.

Been unlocking phones even when it was illegal. Love living in the wild side. Yup I'm such a badass.

Posted via my STA100-5 z30

It's ridiculous that it's illegal in the first place, after the phone is paid for its yours period!!

Posted via CB10

It's not illegal to unlock phones in the UK...... just don't see why phone companies lock their devices anyway........ I've been an EE / orange customer for the last 15 years..... most phone companies have you on a 24 months contract n to end that contract you have to pay what's left on your contact so could end up being rather expensive so locking a device just seems plain stupid.....

Posted via CB10

The funny thing is, every single phone sold in Indonesia is unlocked, even ones coming from carrier bundles. When even a 2nd world such as Indonesia doesn't have a problem with phone unlocking, America doesn't sound too progressive in that department

Z10 STL100-1/10.2.1.3247

cause they still want to keep slavery alive. I guess. I see that differences everywhere into the states.

 Z30 / Q10 / 10.2.1.3175 / T-Mobile USA

In the US, carriers subsidize phone sales, which is not a common practice in Indonesia. That's why BBRY felt it was vital to offer a low-cost phone for Indonesia.

So the president's approval rating is at 36% now? He is obviously helping out the 1%ers with this healthcare bill that allowed corporations to drop part-timers of their benefits. It may of helped the one person he got on stage to lie, but it hurt hundred of thousands of workers who now have to subsidize their own benefits instead of getting subsidized by their employer.

Posted via Z10

Forget politics, I'm just happy I can do this. I like Verizon's phone selection better, but no way in hell am I going to pay those rates. Now I can have the best of both worlds. The phones I want with the carriers I can afford!

Triptastic!

By spying, if the government is going to protect my life, I don't mind it. By spying, if the government gets advantage in securing high level trade deals so that I could get a job, I don't mind it. Spying is in practice for many centuries, so buckle up and have a safe ride ;)

Posted via CB10

Options are good but I'm not interested in switching carriers...unless there's something more to unlocking that I don't understand then I'll remain content-ish. Do tell...

Posted via CB10

Overseas. If you travel internationally, you don't have to pay for obscene international data bundles, you can get a local SIM and put it in your unlocked phone. Of course, you will lose your domestic connection while the SIM is out, but with apps like BBM, Skype, etc. nowadays, you're not totally cut off.

This is crazy, how could they make it illegal in the first place, I feel like the UN should have gotten involved to stop any country from making these stupid laws!

Americans are crazy, and any sane people are crazy for staying there...

Posted via CB10

Been with Tmobile for about 17yrs, never knew my phone was locked to begin with. I guess it's good for people that like to jump around, buying a phone every year or so. Considering they had to pass a law for this, i wouldn't believe the hype. All this "unlocking" is simply a back door, an open window if you will for the nsa, cia, or any other government agency to track you without asking phone companies to share your information. (i.e. A warrant) .

Posted via CB10

I am sure there is a catch in it. It's a hand in people's pockets again. I bet unlocking the phone will involve a heavy price that the customer will have to pay to the carrier. Just like here in Canada, we guys pay about $50 to the carrier to let us unlock the phone.

Posted via CB10

Here in the US, carriers generally unlock phones for free "as a courtesy" if you meet certain requirements (like the phone has to be paid off, or you have to have been a paying customer of x months, etc.) The day they ask me for a penny is the day I will go straight to a third party unlocker, and even if it costs more, I will pay just on principle.

There is no law against unlocking phones in Canada. In fact, the carriers were ordered to provide unlock codes at a "reasonable" price. That came into effect at the same time as the two year contracts came in.

I had to pay Wind Mobile $30 for the unlock code for this Q5. I had to do the unlocking myself. That's hardly reasonable...

Posted via CB10

Here in the UK it's never been a problem, besides who cares if it's lock or not? If you got something to hide then don't use a mobile phone, we all should be please we are not banned from using certain social apps like in China.

Posted via CB10

Legally free of charge or you must pay a fee so you can unlock it?
Note: i'm not a US citizen

Posted via my Z10 Black @@

I have a Z10 STL100-4 on Verizon. If I get it unlocked, which overseas carriers would I be able to use it on (with proper SIM, of course)?

Posted via CB10

Thank you President Obama for making the right move. It did not make any sense that as a leading nation when traveling abroad one would have to carry 2 cell phones (1 unlock and 1 tied to the network in use). Worst as well that people would go abroad and get their cell unlocked so they could use it with the foreign carrier. Thank you so much....

Posted via CB10

If you paid so much money ($$$500) for cell phone you should do what ever you want with it - you own it - your the owner. All this corporation control on electronic cell devices is BS!!!! I always felt since 1995 Contracts are a scam and even now outdated customer policy's.

Posted via CB10