06.23.14

Senate Judiciary Committee To Take Up Cellphone Unlocking Bill This Week

. . . Leahy & Grassley Release Legislation to Improve Consumer Choice

WASHINGTON (Monday, June 23, 2014) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced on Monday an agreement on bipartisan legislation that would restore the ability of consumers to more easily transfer their cell phones to other wireless carriers. The legislation will be listed on the Judiciary Committee’s agenda for this week’s executive business meeting.

Leahy, Grassley and a bipartisan group of cosponsors introduced the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act last year to restore an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) permitting consumers users to “unlock” their cell phones when their contract expires. The Senators have been working for months to reach agreement on a modified bill that focuses on the needs of individual consumers. The Managers Amendment that Leahy and Grassley are releasing today strikes a narrow and commonsense compromise that promotes competition and improves consumer choice.

“Consumers should be able to use their existing cell phones when they move their service to a new wireless provider.  I have worked for months with Ranking Member Grassley, Chairman Goodlatte and House members, consumer advocates and wireless providers to ensure we enact common sense legislation that puts consumers first by allowing them to ‘unlock’ their cell phones,” Leahy said. “Our laws should not prohibit consumers from carrying their cell phones to a new network, and we should promote and protect competition in the wireless marketplace. This is important to consumers in every state, and I look forward to beginning consideration of our bipartisan legislation this week.” 

“Empowering people with the freedom to use the carrier of their choice after complying with their original terms of service is the right thing to do,” Grassley said.  “This bipartisan agreement is an important step forward in ensuring that there is competition in the industry and in safeguarding options for consumers as they look at new cell phone contracts.” 

An outline of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act can be found here, and text of legislation can be found online.

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