Senate Unanimously Passes Leahy’s Bipartisan Cellphone Unlocking Bill That Improves Consumer Choice When Switching Wireless Carriers

. . . Leahy Urges House To Pass Pro-Consumer Bill

WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, July 16, 2014) – The Senate Tuesday night unanimously passed bipartisan legislation authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that would restore the ability of consumers to more easily transfer their cell phones to other wireless carriers.
Approval of the bill comes just days after the Judiciary Committee unanimously reported it to the full Senate. Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined together last month to announce a bipartisan agreement on the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which they first introduced last year after more than 100,000 consumers signed a “We the People” petition calling for a change in cell phone unlocking law.

The bill reinstates a 2010 rulemaking by the Librarian of Congress so that consumers can transfer, or “unlock,” their cell phones without running afoul of copyright laws. It also directs the Librarian of Congress to consider whether other wireless devices, like tablets, should be eligible for unlocking. 

“I applaud the Senate for so quickly passing the bipartisan Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which puts consumers first and promotes competition in the wireless phone marketplace,” Leahy said. “With the Senate’s swift action last night, just days after the Judiciary Committee approved the measure, I hope the House will soon take up and pass our bill so that consumers will be able to use their existing cell phones on the wireless carrier of their choice.”

The House passed related cellphone unlocking legislation in February. Leahy has been coordinating with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other members of the House Judiciary Committee to ensure that Congress can pass a commonsense bill this year.

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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