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Almost free at last: House passes bill legalizing cellphone unlocking

It’s a rare but welcome sight: The United States House of Representatives has passed a commonsense bill by a wide margin. Reuters reports that the House on Tuesday passed a bill that would make it legal for consumers to unlock their cellphones once their contracts have expired so they can be used on other networks, although there is a pretty big catch. According to Reuters, the bill still bans “bulk unlocking,” which means that consumers still wouldn’t be allowed to “sell their old devices to third parties that could unlock phones in bulk.” The language added against bulk unlocking has led some consumer groups to withdraw their support for the bill.

Nonetheless, the bill should be a welcome reprieve for anyone who wants to bring their old device to a new carrier without the risk of facing repercussions. The legislation would at least in part reverse a decision made by the Librarian of Congress last fall to deny consumers the right to unlock their phones and bring them to different carriers. That decision has been widely criticized by politicians of all stripes and has led to many lawmakers introducing their own cellphone unlocking bills over the past year.

Now that the bill has passed the House, it heads to the Senate where Reuters says it faces an “uncertain” future.


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