In a win for the U.S. public, the House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday allowing consumers to remove the digital locks on their cellphones and legally switch between mobile carriers. Until now, consumers risked fines of up to $500,000 and five years in jail for “jailbreaking,” unlocking phones without a phone company’s consent. The Senate has already passed the bill.
The ban on jailbreaking was wildly unpopular. A White House petition to get rid of these penalties garnered 114,000 signatures. Some have even gone so far as to declare the ban un-American.
“It’s a positive for consumer choice that you are going to be able to unlock in a variety of ways,” Christopher Lewis, vice president of government affairs for Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, told the New York Times.
In a statement on Friday, President Obama also voiced his support for the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act:
The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cellphone carrier that meets their needs and their budget.
Featured image by Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press