New legislation aimed at unlocking cell phones

New legislation has a chance at doing away with US wireless carriers’ practices of phone subsidies, long-term contracts, and steep termination fees. With provisions that would require clearer language from carriers and non-subsidized handsets and plans, even Apple could be forced to open up the iPhone to other networks.

The iPhone is at the center of yet another squabble over US mobile phone consumers’ rights. After “permanently inoperable” firmware updates, a class action targeting mobile phone locking practices, and even an unlocking exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),

Only a draft called “Wireless Consumer Protection and Community Broadband Empowerment Act of 2008” (PDF link) for now, the bill is sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and actually has some broad intentions: “To require the Federal Communications Commission to promulgate new consumer protection regulations for wireless service subscribers, to restrict State and local regulation of public providers of advanced communications capability and service, to increase spectrum efficiency by Federal agencies, and for other purposes.” (link)

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