Bill to Legalize Phone Unlocking Clears Committee
The House Judiciary Committee today approved the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which will eventually make it legal for consumers to unlock their cellphones without first obtaining permission from their wireless carrier. It will also allow third parties to help consumers unlock their cell phones. Earlier this year, an exemption in copyright law expired and unlocking cell phones (without carrier permission) became illegal. Consumer advocates immediately campaigned to have the law reversed. "We all live with our phones 24/7, so it is important for consumers to have the flexibility to pick the service plans that work for them," said Internet Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble, co-sponsor of the bill. Now that the bill has passed committee, it must be approved by the full House of Representatives.
Houses Passes Bill that Could Cripple FCC's Net Neutrality Rules
The U.S. House of Representatives today passed bill HR 2666, which could interfere with the FCC's ability to enforce net neutrality provisions.
TracFone Settles with FCC Over Locked Phones
TracFone has reached an agreement with the FCC concerning its policies for unlocking handsets. In February of this year it became mandatory for all carriers to unlock customer handsets and to properly disclose their unlocking policies to customers.
Republicans to Let NSA Keep Spying On Your Calls
Republicans recently introduced a bill in the Senate that will extend the NSA's ability to collect and store phone call data through December 2020. As it stands today, the law (part of the Patriot Act) is slated to expire June 1.
Senate Passes USA Freedom Act
The Senate today passed the USA Freedom Act, which moves to curtail how the NSA collects and stores American call records. The Patriot Act expired on Sunday and with it the NSA's authority to collect call records en masse.
Republicans Attempt to Defang the FCC
Republicans proposed net neutrality legislation of their own on Friday that could significantly weaken the FCC's power over regulator internet providers. The bill, drafted by Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, would make it illegal for network operators to throttle data or offer paid prioritization schemes — except for data management purposes.