Cellphone Unlocking Victory Is Just the Beginning

Today, President Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law. This historic signing comes almost two years after the Internet rose up against the archaic rulemaking process that made unlocking a cellphone illegal in the first place.

cell phone unlocking

Over 114,000 people signed a We The People petition demanding that Congress carve out legal protections for cellphone unlocking. Since then, iFixit has been working relentlessly with other activists like Sina Khanifar, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge to shepherd a solution through the Senate and onto President Obama’s desk. The President’s signature doesn’t just ink a hard-fought bill into law—it’s a testament to the collective power of netizens, who stood up to powerful, entrenched corporate interests and won.

“Our right to modify and repair our products has been under attack for decades. This is a pivotal moment: the first time that Congress and the President have publicly recognized that a consumer’s right to modify their own electronics trumps the interests of big corporations,” says iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens.

The unlocking fight is just the beginning of a much larger battle. The root of the problem—the tri-annual DMCA review process—starts up again in September. While cellphone unlocking will (most likely) remain legal, other digital freedoms could be revoked in the upcoming review. And the absurd requirement for device-specific exemptions means unlocking other products—like tablets—remains illegal.

That’s why we support Representative Zoe Lofgren’s Unlocking Technology Act, which would undo many of the copyright abuses that corporations can levy on technology under the DMCA. And iFixit will continue to fight for your right to repair your own devices, to unlock and tinker with the things you own, and to modify them as you see fit.