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house Bill H.R. 1123

Unlocking Cell Phones

Argument in favor

Gives more power to the consumer. Unlocking allows for re-use, and re-use means less e-waste.

Argument opposed

Could potentially limit future unlocking efforts via the prohibition of bulk unlocking of devices.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed February 26th, 2014
    Roll Call Vote 295 Yea / 114 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
    IntroducedMarch 13th, 2013

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What is House Bill H.R. 1123?

Would permit cell phone customers to unlock their devices for use on competitors' networks. From 2006 to 2012, cell phone unlocking was legal due to a Library of Congress exemption under the DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In January 2013, cell phone unlocking officially became illegal again According to Digital Trends, "customers who wished to unlock their device would have to receive permission from their wireless service provider to avoid breaking the law. Unlocking without carrier permission potentially carried hefty fines--up to $2,500 per illegally unlocked device." The bill includes a prohibition against bulk unlocking of devices for the purpose of resale--a point of conflict for some consumer watchdog groups. 


Would affect cell phone carriers and their customers.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1123

The CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1123 would have no significant effect on discretionary spending over the 2014-2018 period.

More Information



Electronic Frontier Foundation: Opposition Statement

InfoJustice: The Cell Phone Unblocking Saga

ThinkProgress: How Banning Companies Unlocking Cell Phones Hurts the Poor

Of Note:

-One of the chief, competing pieces of legislation being considered by the House is the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013

-The Senate equivalent of this bill is s517. 


Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

Official Title

To promote consumer choice and wireless competition by permitting consumers to unlock mobile wireless devices, and for other purposes.