COLUMBIA (WACH) -- A new law passed by members of Congress Monday prohibits people from unlocking their cell phones.
The United States Copyright Office has outlawed the practice.
The law states that it is now illegal to unlock a cell phone from a carrier without that carrier's permission.
When initially proposed, the goal was to limit copyright infringement, but it's restricting cell phone users from switching carriers.
A move that Stephen Miano, owner of That Computer Store at Columbiana Center Mall, says will have a negative impact on consumers.
"It hurts innovation, it reduces the freedom of choice for the consumer. We've all been sold on a product and then found hey this isn't the product I thought it would be that freedom of choice is now being handcuffed," said Miano.
Preston Pirnya agrees with Miano. The owner of Cellular Concepts thinks people should have a right to choose their cell phone provider.
"O nce you're out of that two year agreement they shouldn't have any hold on the device you paid for it it's contractually yours. You should be able to do whatever you wish," said Pirna.
If the law is violated, you could face a civil or criminal lawsuit and up to $500,000 in fines.