Latest GOP double cross
Last year, the Librarian of Congress issued a regulation forbidding consumers from “unlocking” their cell phones. Unlocking a cell phone is the process by which consumers retrieve and transfer their stored data when they change carriers. The rule was issued pursuant to the Liberian of Congress’s power to enforce laws regarding copyright, as an obscure provision of copyright law allows the government to ban cell phone unlocking in order to protect the carrier’s “intellectual property.”
Responding to widespread opposition to this rule, including from Campaign for Liberty, Congress is going to vote on legislation (HR 1123) today delaying the anti-cell phone lock rule for a year. However, a provision was snuck into the law outlawing bulk unlocking. This provision is essentially a “back-door” ban on cell phone unlocking, since the only commercial services available to unlock cell phones do it in bulk. So the only people this bill benefits are those with the technical know-how to unlock their phone themselves.
This bill is being debate under “suspension” procedures, which means there are no opportunities to amend the bill. However, suspension always requires two-thirds vote to pass. Campaign for Liberty members who want the right to have their cell phone unblocked should call their representatives and tell them to oppose the amended version of HR 1123 and ask that they support HR 1892, legislation cosponsored by a bipartisan group of members including Representative Thomas Massie, that permanently repeals the rule outlawing cell phone blocking.