What was supposed to be a bill that would allow consumers to jailbreak their mobile phones has been poisoned and watered down by lawmakers. The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition act, which passed in the House of Representatives this week, allows users to unlock devices for use on a new carrier after their subsidized contract expires, but a last minute amendment added an exclusion for "bulk unlocking." The added language charges a fee to companies who buy phones in bulk for the purpose of jailbreaking them and selling them to consumers.
Supporters of the change argue that the charge won't prevent the bulk sale of locked or previous unlocked phones. Though the bill passed with a strong majority in the Republican-controlled House, the change was significant enough to cause some former supporters to oppose the bill.
"There needs to be a market in unlocked phones," Democratic Representative Jared Polis said, describing the last minute change as a "poison pill" for consumer advocates.
Supporters of the original bill are hoping that it will get tweaked when its counterpart bill comes up in the Senate...