Congress passes cell phone “unlocking” bill

Cell phones

NEW YORK (AP) – Congress has passed a bill that makes it legal to “unlock” cellphones so the devices can -at least in some instances- be used on other carriers.

The law, which President Obama says he looks forward to signing, undoes a move by the Librarian of Congress in 2012. That made it a copyright violation to unlock a phone without the carrier’s permission.

The law passed Friday by the House of Representatives makes it legal to unlock phones for personal use at least until the Librarian’s next round of rulemaking, next year. The measure was passed earlier by the Senate.

Unlocking typically involves entering codes on the phone. In more difficult cases, the phone needs to be hooked up to a computer to have new software installed.

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