Back in 2012, the United States Copyright Office effectively outlawed the unlocking of cellphones, making it very difficult for someone to use their phone on a carrier other than the one it was purchased for.
A new bill that's set to be signed into law by president Barack Obama will change this, making cellphone unlocking legal in the country. Known as the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act", the bill has already passed through both Congress and the Senate.
The passing of the bill follows many months of activism from groups who believe consumers should have the right to unlock devices they've legally purchased. While having an unlocked handset is necessary for switching providers without purchasing a new device, it's especially helpful for travelers, who might want to use a local SIM over often-expensive global roaming options.
Obama said in a statement that "the bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget".