The bill, sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, still has a good chance of passing through the House. The Senate would need to pass it, and President Barack Obama would need to sign it, before it became law. The bill still has several supporters from the Judiciary Committee.
The bulk unlocking provision addresses law enforcement concerns about the resale of stolen phones, a House staffer added.
In December, the five largest U.S. mobile carriers, under pressure from Congress and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, announced plans to allow customers to unlock their mobile devices.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.