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​House passes bill that legalizes phone unlocking, with a frustrating caveat

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Still unsure where unlocking your mobile device falls under the eyes of the law? Legislation just passed through the US House of Representatives that might clear things up, but there's a catch. The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition act would allow users to unlock devices for use on a new carrier after their subsidized contract expires -- but a late change to the bill tacked on an exclusion for "bulk unlocking." This last minute change spoils the legislation for companies that purchase, unlock and resell devices to consumers, and casts a shadow over a bill that could have helped free your mobile from the convoluted mire of US copyright law.

Proponents of the change argue that it won't prevent the bulk sale of locked or previous unlocked phones - and it passed with a strong majority - but the change was significant enough to dissuade several previously supportive representatives from voting for the bill. "There needs to be a market in unlocked phones," Democratic Representative Jared Polis said, describing the late change as a "poison pill" for consumer advocates. Hopefully, the bill will see more positive tweaks on the floor of the Senate.

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