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FCC To Examine Federal Ban On Unlocking Cellphones

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski says his agency will investigate whether a federal ban on unlocking cellphones is "harmful to economic competitiveness."

Genachowski made the comments during a event hosted by the technology site TechCrunch.

As Bill reported in February, a law that went into effect this year makes it illegal for Americans to unlock — or reprogram — new cellphones. Frustrated, a White House petition to rethink that law garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

TechCrunch adds:

"For six years, the Library of Congress exempted cell phone unlocks from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans "circumvention" of copy protection schemes. The decision was reversed during the last round of triennial reviews.

"Now users who dare to modify software on the devices they own are subject to legal penalties.

"Genachowski isn't sure what authority he has, but if he finds any, given the tone of the conversation, it's likely he will exert his influence to reverse the decision. 'It's something that we will look at at the FCC to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones.'"

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