Mobile phone unlocking bill loses backers
Critics don't like language added to the legislation that would prohibit bulk unlocking of phones
IDG News Service - Some one-time supporters of a mobile phone unlocking bill in the U.S. Congress have withdrawn their support for the legislation because of a new provision added to it as it heads to the House of Representatives floor for a vote.
A vote on the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act was scheduled for late Tuesday, but four lawmakers and digital rights groups Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have withdrawn their support for the bill. Republicans managing the bill inserted language into the bill, after it was approved in the House Judiciary Committee, that would allow the continued prohibition of bulk unlocking of mobile phones for resale.
Unlocking a phone is typically used to switch carriers. In January 2013, the Library of Congress removed the act of unlocking a smartphone from the legal exceptions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and digital rights advocates have called on Congress to restore the protections.
The new wording favors mobile carriers, said Derek Khanna, a copyright reform activist. "Phone companies lobbied to make phone unlocking illegal, and now that the public has responded with outrage and demanded action the phone companies lobbyists have rewritten the legislation to go after their competitors," he said by email. "Many consumers have to rely upon others to unlock their devices for them; under this text small businesses could not provide that service."
Electronics resellers should be able to buy phones from consumers, and after ensuring they're not stolen, unlock them for resale, he said. "This is a critical part of how the wireless market functions," he added.
The bill, as written, would also allow the Library of Congress to again review the phone unlocking provisions in the DMCA in 2015, Khanna added. Congress should pass a permanent exemption, he said.
The new language in the Unlocking Consumer Choice Act weakens the bill, Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo, both California Democrats, wrote in a letter to their colleagues this week. The change in the bill would give consumers less control over their mobile devices, and give companies more leverage to use the DMCA against them, they wrote.
"Congress should work to roll back abusive practices that use copyright law to prevent owners from having control over the devices they lawfully own," they wrote. "What it means to 'own' a device that has been purchased is what's at stake here. The new addition to the bill puts the effort to stand up for the property rights of the owners of technology devices at risk."
Lofgren was a sponsor of the bill. Also voicing opposition to the bill Tuesday were Representatives Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, and Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Gov't Legislation/Regulation White Papers | Webcasts