The whole controversy surrounding phone unlocking ban is really heating up, as several more members of Congress have pledged to tackle the issue. The news arrives after the White House agreed with a WeThePeople petition that consumers should have the right, and after Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, said she would introduce a pro-unlocking bill in the Senate.
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), Ranking Member on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said on Wednesday that the ban on unlocking phones puts consumers in the back seat when it comes to choosing the mobile device and service that best suits them.
"Competition and consumer choice are equally fundamental to a vibrant mobile marketplace, which is why I intend to introduce legislation eliminating the ban on unlocking cell phones and other mobile devices," she said.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) agreed, saying that consumers should have the flexibility to use their devices on any network they choose, provided they comply with the terms of service. Klobuchar also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee with Leahy.
"I intend to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to restore users’ ability to unlock their phones and provide them with the choice and freedom that we have all come to expect in the digital era," Leahy said.
Sen. Ron Wyden provided a brief statement via Twitter, claiming that he also has a legislation solution to the current cell phone unlocking problem. As it stands now, any consumer caught unlocking a phone purchased after January 2013 will face a $500,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.
"You bought it, you should be able to use it. My Wireless Device Independence Act ensures you can unlock your device," he stated.
And that's not all. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of the House of Representatives said that "it is a freedom issue", and that if "you own the phone, you should be able to unlock it." Rep. Darrell Issa of California also issued his support for unlocking phones on Wednesday along with Democratic colleague Jaren Polis.
The ban on unlocking cell phones went into effect in January after the Library of Congress let a longstanding exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) lapse. This exemption was added to prevent consumers from violating the DMCA's prohibition on circumventing measures designed to prevent copyright infringement.