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Cell Phone Unlocking Bill Passes, Bad Last-Minute Changes And All

Published: February 25, 2014
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Source: TechDirt

In an evening session just a few minutes ago, the House of Representatives voted 295-114 in favor of H.R.1123, the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act". As we discussed this morning, though it started out as a reasonably good bill intended to address the use of the DMCA to squash activities that have nothing to do with copyright, last-minute changes introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte poisoned its intent by introducing a possible future exception for bulkphone unlocking.

Unfortunately, the changes were so last-minute that the reaction and withdrawal of support by Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo was not enough to turn the tides. Though the problematic text is carefully worded for plausible deniability — allowing the House to claim it hasn't technically taken a side — I doubt it would take long before phone companies and their lobbyists started using this oh-so-obvious bit of leverage gifted to them in the bill. For now, it falls to the Senate to pass their version of the bill, so there's still a chance we'll see these problems addressed.

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