Friday, February 28, 2014

OpenStack 03/01/2014 (a.m.)

  • Tags: legislation, cell-phone-unlocking

    • On Feb. 25, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 295-114 under suspension of the rules a bill aimed at creating a statutory right for owners of cellphones to be able to “unlock” their phones so that they can use the same phone with a different service provider.

      The Unlocking Consumer Choice Act (H.R. 1123), which was introduced in March by Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was widely supported by members on both sides of the aisle.

      However, some representatives expressed objections to the current form of the legislation and even suggested that statutory protection of unlocking was no longer necessary, given that the Federal Communications Commission had in December persuaded the wireless industry to allow unlocking on a voluntary basis (241 PTD, 12/16/13).

    • On the morning of the day that the vote was to take place, several representatives who had previously supported the bill, issued a letter to their colleagues urging that H.R. 1123 be defeated on the floor of the House. The letter--signed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Thomas H. Massie (R-Ky.), and Jared S. Polis (D-Colo.)--objected to a provision added to the bill after its approval by the full committee in July (148 PTD, 8/1/13).

      The new provision would exempt from protection “bulk unlocking” of phones. This provision might have something to with concerns expressed by some members of the Judiciary Committee in last year's hearings on the bill that permitting individual consumers to unlock their phones should not extend to businesses who charge consumers to unlock their phones for them.

      The letter referred to statements by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge, consumer groups that had both supported the bill in the past, in which they withdrew their support because of the appearance of the new provision.


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