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Timothy B. Lee

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Andrea Peterson

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Posted at 02:52 PM ET, 05/09/2013

The Circuit: Rep. Lofgren unveils cellphone unlocking bill

Cellphone unlocking: Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) on Thursday released a new bill that would make cellphone unlocking legal, on a permanent basis. Unlocking a cellphone or tablet allows consumers to take their devices from network to network; it is illegal under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

The Library of Congress had previously issued an exemption to the DMCA unlocking provision, but that exemption expired earlier this year. The White House said in March that it believes it should be legal to unlock cellphones, prompting some lawmakers to introduce bills that would renew or extend the exemption.

The bill introduced Thursday, however, would make the practice permanently legal.

 "Americans should not be subject to fines and criminal liability for merely unlocking devices and media they legally purchased.” said Lofgren in a statement. “If consumers are not violating copyright or some other law, there's little reason to hold back the benefits of unlocking so people can continue using their devices."

Obama open data order: The Obama administration Thursday issued an executive order and policy that would make federal data open to developers. As The Washington Post reported, the policy requires that the government make data open and machine-readable for entrepreneurs and researchers.

There are, however, limits to protect privacy, national security and confidentiality.

In a White House video, U.S. chief technology officer Todd Park said that the government hopes this data access will spark new startups, companies and innovations in fields including, “health and medicine, public safety, education, energy and much more.”

Twitter legal director to White House: Twitter legal director Nicole Wong, who has also worked at Google, is expected to be named senior adviser to White House CTO Todd Park, The Washington Post reported. She will focus on Internet privacy and cybersecurity issues.

The expected appointment, which was first reported by CNET, would create a new position.

FCC moves ahead with in-flight Internet proposal: The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to move ahead with a proposal that could boost the speed of in-flight Internet by freeing up spectrum for inflight broadband use. The commission is seeking public comment on the proposal, which it said in a release could ”increase competition, improve the quality of service, and lead to lower prices” for in-flight Internet.

By  |  02:52 PM ET, 05/09/2013

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