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Bill to legalize phone unlocking on the way, says senator

Senator Klobuchar
Amy Klobuchar

Hot on the heels of a White House statement supporting unimpeded mobile phone unlocking, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) has announced that she will introduce legislation to reverse the ban imposed in January.

The text of the bill was not released, but a press release briefly describing the reasoning behind it was posted on Kolbuchar's website.

"We need to make sure consumers are getting a fair deal and today’s announcement is a welcome step towards implementing consumer-friendly policies in the wireless industry," Klobuchar said in a statement. "That’s why I’m introducing legislation this week to get rid of the ban on unlocking cell phones and I will continue to work to advance commonsense measures to protect consumers and promote competition."

Klobuchar has dealt with cellphone legislation before, sponsoring a bill called the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007, requiring "greater disclosure to, and empowerment of, consumers who have entered into a contract for cellular telephone service." That bill died in committee.

Unlocking a phone allows it to be used on carriers other than the one from which it was purchased, and it was recently ruled that consumers may not unlock their phone without permission from that same carrier.

In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed, effective in late January.

The White House, Library of Congress and FCC all responded Monday after an online petition to remove restrictions on unlocking mobile phones reached more than 100,000 signatures. All three indicated that they would support legislation to remove those restrictions.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is