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President Obama signs bill making it once again legal to unlock cell phones

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
President Obama on Friday put his signature to to the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, a bill resolving a number of legal conflicts under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that previously presented legal challenges for consumers seeking to unlock their mobile phones.

SIM-free iPhone 5s


The new law repeals a previous decision by the Library of Congress -- the official legal steward of the DMCA -- to uphold a provision of that bill that makes unlocking mobile phones illegal. The Library of Congress had previously exempted mobile phone unlocking, but chose not to in its most recent review.

Consumers revolted following the Library of Congress's decision, signaling their displeasure by gathering more than 110,000 signatures on a petition to make unlocking legal via congressional action. The passing of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act marks the first time such a petition has led to a legislative change.

"This commonsense legislation ensured that consumers could transfer their phones between carriers, and that second-hand phones could be put to good use by new owners connecting to a network of their choice," the Obama administration wrote in a release.

Though the law makes unlocking legal, it does not direct wireless carriers to provide unlock codes without a valid reason. Consumers who are still under a previously-signed service contract with their wireless provider, for instance, will still need to satisfy the terms of that contract before being allowed to unlock their device.
post #2 of 38

There’s a responsibility to balance thread titles that are honest and responsible to the content and thread titles designed to get views. I’d keep that in mind.

post #3 of 38

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #4 of 38
Bell Canada allowed me to unlock my phone for $75, no questions asked. They said anyone could do it as long as 12months have passed after signing the contract (out of 36months in my case). Well.. One question asked, I guess.

Just thought I'd share..
Not sure how similar/different the US and Canadian rules are.
post #5 of 38
Over here in Norway you just order your unlocked iPhone directly from the Apple Store website. You don't even need a contract in the first place.
post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Over here in Norway you just order your unlocked iPhone directly from the Apple Store website. You don't even need a contract in the first place.

 

As we can in the US also. This unlocking change concerns phones that were previously sold under contract and locked.

post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziadjk View Post

Bell Canada allowed me to unlock my phone for $75, no questions asked. They said anyone could do it as long as 12months have passed after signing the contract (out of 36months in my case).

 

Where the FACK do cellular carriers get off charging me money to release their grip on MY PROPERTY?! I own the phone! What legal or ethical justification could there possibly be for them being able to restrict my use of my own property?!

 

It gets better. I have an old iPhone 3 that was replaced and retired four or five years ago. I'd like to give it to the kid to use as an iPod. The carrier won't even unlock THAT without getting their pound of flesh! SERIOUSLY?

 

ANY charge for an out-of-contract phone is indefensible.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

Reply

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

Reply
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

Where the FACK do cellular carriers get off charging me money to release their grip on MY PROPERTY?! I own the phone! What legal or ethical justification could there possibly be for them being able to restrict my use of my own property?!

 

It gets better. I have an old iPhone 3 that was replaced and retired four or five years ago. I'd like to give it to the kid to use as an iPod. The carrier won't even unlock THAT without getting their pound of flesh! SERIOUSLY?

 

ANY charge for an out-of-contract phone is indefensible.


Canadian carriers seem to be much worse scheisters than the US ones who pretty much unlock GSM phone once contract is UP or paid off. The $75 loonies for unlocking is unconscionable and this law change in the US probably leaves you SOL.

 

However, this headline seems weird. I just had AT&T unlock an iPhone 4 I picked up off ebay for cheap. I just used one of my 5 annual unlocks and it came through in 24 hours. It wasn't even mine originally, though it was clean ESN and off-contract. I have AT&T unlock all my iPhones to repurpose them or give them to family. How does this law change any of that? Was that all illegal before? It is a long way from making unlocks legal to something like enforcing all phones to be unlocked before contract end or always unlocked or unlimited unlocks on demand or anything truly useful.

 

The non-GSM carriers will typically unlock the GSM portion of an iPhone as long as you have an account in good standing though this blocks use on all US GSM carriers forever. I suppose it could stop this blockage which would redirect more Sprint/VZW phones into the overall US used market.

 

But I'm still not sure this what this law is actually going to do for us. It is of a pretty minor benefit to unlock a phone that is still on contract since you still owe either the contract or the ETF. If you pay the ETF, you can have it unlocked already. The halcyon days of unlocking was from ebay vendors competing down to a dollar to unlock your iphone regardless of provenance. It was sweet, cheap and easy, though surely helped thieves as well. Now with icloud locks etc. stolen iphones are mostly bricked anyway. The vendors clearly had their access within the carriers to unlocking capabilities and apparently no-one cared... until they did. This crack down was not DMCA driven but carriers wanting to control the used phone stock which risks the upgrade cycle as phones become "good enough" for a longer useful life. I don't see this law changing this once open loophole. Will cheap 3rd party unlocking come back? If so, how and why? If anyone has clearer understanding of the practical benefits of this law, please let me know.

post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

Where the FACK do cellular carriers get off charging me money to release their grip on MY PROPERTY?! I own the phone! What legal or ethical justification could there possibly be for them being able to restrict my use of my own property?!

 

It gets better. I have an old iPhone 3 that was replaced and retired four or five years ago. I'd like to give it to the kid to use as an iPod. The carrier won't even unlock THAT without getting their pound of flesh! SERIOUSLY?

You live in Canada.  In the US, there is no charge to unlock the phone when you have satisfied the contract, if you purchased it under subsidy.  The law never restricted anyone from unlocking a phone once they satisfied their contract.  To use an iPhone as an iPod, it does not have to be unlocked.  Turn on Airplane Mode so it doesn't search for a carrier and it is an iPod.

post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



This is the best thing I've seen all day.
post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

There’s a responsibility to balance thread titles that are honest and responsible to the content and thread titles designed to get views. I’d keep that in mind.
the cell phone carriers were making it hard for consumers to unlock their phones even when they were out of contract. I remember signing the petition myself and tracking the petition for months.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

the cell phone carriers were making it hard for consumers to unlock their phones even when they were out of contract. I remember signing the petition myself and tracking the petition for months. Either way Im waiting for Republicans to tell me how this will destroy america as we know it and puts a costly burden on big business.


What tripe since it passed the US House - hell, I think it was even started in the US House. He signed an "Bill" that began as an Act! Did School House Rock miss you as a child or are you trying to start trouble? The last 3 iPhones I bought were unlocked. My carrier has a website that you can online submit a request and the phone is unlocked. Pretty damned hard, right?
Edited by ChristophB - 8/1/14 at 8:24pm
post #13 of 38

Lame Duck.

 
Where's the new Apple TV?
 
 
(So Y is the new X?   Zzzzzzzzzz......)
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Where's the new Apple TV?
 
 
(So Y is the new X?   Zzzzzzzzzz......)
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post #14 of 38
In Switzerland they sell you, subsidised, unlocked phones. It makes sense. As long as you pay your plan for the number of months you signed up for it, then they don't care which phone you use or if you resell it. After all the higher the subscription, the higher the subsidy. And all top contracts are "all you can eat" data and calls. So basically the carrier doesn't make much more on top if you use the subscription or let it sit in a drawer.
After the subscription (usually 24 months) is over, you can continue, switch, receive a new phone, or do whatever pleases you.
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post


the cell phone carriers were making it hard for consumers to unlock their phones even when they were out of contract. I remember signing the petition myself and tracking the petition for months.


You realize this law does nothing to remedy your complaint? We also didn't need legislation for the carriers to address your complaint, All of the major carriers will unlock your phone once you have fulfilled the contract. This law is as close to pointless as a law can get and primarily undoes part of the DMCA that removes your personal liability for using something like SIMfree (which for legitimate purposes is a moot point as the carriers will unlock your out of contract phone already).
 

Also, currently this law does nothing about the lip service quoted from the White House.

"This commonsense legislation ensured that consumers could transfer their phones between carriers, and that second-hand phones could be put to good use by new owners connecting to a network of their choice,"

 

There is nothing the law stipulates or requires that will magically change the different technology and frequencies the carriers use on their networks that will ensure consumers can transfer their phones between carriers. Apple is one of the very few device makers that goes to the trouble of designing their phones to support as many bands as possible, but they still have 8 different versions of the iPhone5s to handle the various networks around the world (See the table below from everymac.com) The models in the US (A1533 GSM, A1533 CDMA, and A1453 CDMA) have some slight differences in cellular networks. For example you can not take an AT&T (or the unlocked T-Mobile) iPhone5s and use it on Verizon or Sprint other than for LTE which is a GSM standard. In another 5 - 10 years all of the networks will be mostly LTE or later GSM and we may finally see Apple (and other device makers) drop legacy support for CDMA.

 

iPhone 5s Model
Number 
UMTS/HSPA+
DC-HSDPA 
CDMA 
EV-DO
LTE Bands 
(4G) 
GSM/North America A1533 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz None 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25
CDMA/Verizon A1533 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25
CDMA/China Tel.  A1533 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz None
CDMA/US/Japan A1453 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26
UK/Europe/M. East  A1457 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20
China Unicom  A1528 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None None*
Asia Pacific A1530 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None FDD-LTE (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20); TD-LTE (38, 39, 40)
China Mobile A1518 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None

TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A); TD-LTE (38, 39, 40)

 

 

source:

http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/iphone/iphone-faq/differences-between-iphone-5s-models.html

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post


What tripe since it passed the US House - hell, I think it was even started in the US House. He signed an "Bill" that began as an Act! Did School House Rock miss you as a child or are you trying to start trouble? The last 3 iPhones I bought were unlocked. My carrier has a website that you can online submit a request and the phone is unlocked. Pretty damned hard, right?

 

Sadly most people in America are too lazy, too apathetic, or too caught up in what is #trending to have a clue about how our government is to function according to the Constitution.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

Where the FACK do cellular carriers get off charging me money to release their grip on MY PROPERTY?! I own the phone! What legal or ethical justification could there possibly be for them being able to restrict my use of my own property?!

 

It gets better. I have an old iPhone 3 that was replaced and retired four or five years ago. I'd like to give it to the kid to use as an iPod. The carrier won't even unlock THAT without getting their pound of flesh! SERIOUSLY?

 

ANY charge for an out-of-contract phone is indefensible.

 

I'm not familiar with Canadian contract law, however I would speculate that if you purchase a subsidized phone under contract the phone is not your property until the contract is fulfilled. I do agree with you about the out of contract devices and that they charge you to unlock them.

 

Regards,

-PopinFRESH

post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post
 

Lame Duck.

 

Nope.  

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

Nope.  

Yep.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

What tripe since it passed the US House - hell, I think it was even started in the US House. He signed an "Bill" that began as an Act! Did School House Rock miss you as a child or are you trying to start trouble? The last 3 iPhones I bought were unlocked. My carrier has a website that you can online submit a request and the phone is unlocked. Pretty damned hard, right?
Im going by my own experience. Clearly even republicans in congress felt the need to pass this completely unnecessary bill because you were able to get your phone unlocked.
post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Im going by my own experience. Clearly even republicans in congress felt the need to pass this completely unnecessary bill because you were able to get your phone unlocked.

If something doesn't need doing, rest assured a politician will do it.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

If something doesn't need doing, rest assured a politician will do it.
I had to beg ATT to unlock my phone even though I bought my phone outright. I dont really buy into those blanket platitudes about politicians and parties. You could say the same things about anyone doing things they dont need to. Some here dont get my humor. Apple shouldve made the phones unlocked by default. Dont even give carriers the option to lock it since they are no longer exclusive to ATT. Why should ATT be able to tell you how many times you can unlock your phones in a year?
Edited by AdonisSMU - 8/2/14 at 6:59am
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by PopinFRESH View Post


You realize this law does nothing to remedy your complaint? We also didn't need legislation for the carriers to address your complaint, All of the major carriers will unlock your phone once you have fulfilled the contract. This law is as close to pointless as a law can get and primarily undoes part of the DMCA that removes your personal liability for using something like SIMfree (which for legitimate purposes is a moot point as the carriers will unlock your out of contract phone already).

 
Also, currently this law does nothing about the lip service quoted from the White House.
"This commonsense legislation ensured that consumers could transfer their phones between carriers, and that second-hand phones could be put to good use by new owners connecting to a network of their choice,"

There is nothing the law stipulates or requires that will magically change the different technology and frequencies the carriers use on their networks that will ensure consumers can transfer their phones between carriers. Apple is one of the very few device makers that goes to the trouble of designing their phones to support as many bands as possible, but they still have 8 different versions of the iPhone5s to handle the various networks around the world (See the table below from everymac.com) The models in the US (A1533 GSM, A1533 CDMA, and A1453 CDMA) have some slight differences in cellular networks. For example you can not take an AT&T (or the unlocked T-Mobile) iPhone5s and use it on Verizon or Sprint other than for LTE which is a GSM standard. In another 5 - 10 years all of the networks will be mostly LTE or later GSM and we may finally see Apple (and other device makers) drop legacy support for CDMA.

source:
http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/iphone/iphone-faq/differences-between-iphone-5s-models.html



Sadly most people in America are too lazy, too apathetic, or too caught up in what is #trending to have a clue about how our government is to function according to the Constitution.


I'm not familiar with Canadian contract law, however I would speculate that if you purchase a subsidized phone under contract the phone is not your property until the contract is fulfilled. I do agree with you about the out of contract devices and that they charge you to unlock them.

Regards,
-PopinFRESH
You do realize that the different bands allow companies to differentiate the technology they are using to service their customers. Based on your suggestion if a carrier wants to make improvements in their tech they cant because what you proposed is every company to be on one band by law. Please stay out of the business of making laws because your proposal is worse than what is already been done.
post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post
 

 

I didn't mention anything about the carriers being required to use one band, by law or otherwise. I simply pointed out that the law that was passed does nothing to make devices of different network technology portable to other carriers.

 

-PopinFRESH

post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

You do realize that the different bands allow companies to differentiate the technology they are using to service their customers.

Please elaborate because I had thought the bands were sold at auction by governments to prevent overlap between carriers (regulate), generate revenue to said government for the cost of regulation and so carriers can transition older tech to less desirable bands as new tech comes in.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

I had to beg ATT to unlock my phone even though I bought my phone outright. I dont really buy into those blanket platitudes about politicians and parties. You could say the same things about anyone doing things they dont need to. Some here dont get my humor. Apple shouldve made the phones unlocked by default. Dont even give carriers the option to lock it since they are no longer exclusive to ATT. Why should ATT be able to tell you how many times you can unlock your phones in a year?

By "beg" you meant click this website and be done with the contract you entered into freely?

https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/client/en_US/
post #24 of 38
Originally Posted by PopinFRESH View Post

 

Locking exists solely to remove competition, but locking is not the only block to competition.

post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Well, I dispute its relevance to the conversation at all. Nowhere does it stipulate even the foundation of what is being discussed here.

 

Locking exists solely to remove competition, but locking is not the only block to competition.


Tallest Skil, I agree the Constitution doesn't stipulate anything about the law being discussed here. I never mentioned it did, I simply stated my opinion that most Americans sadly don't have a clue as to how our government is to be run according to it. I was replying to ChristophB's mention of School House Rock's attempt to explain how congress creates legislation.

As for locking, I wouldn't say it solely exists to remove competition. I would attribute a portion of their motivation to retaining some control over their product. One wouldn't purchase a car using a loan and expect the bank to not place a lean on the title. This isn't to say that the carriers didn't also view this as a barrier to exit, nor is it the only barrier (as I've already mentioned the incompatible proprietary networks). I do believe (as stated previously) that over the next 5 - 10 years, we will see all of the major carriers operating compatible GSM networks which will enable device makers like Apple to create a single device that operates on each of their bands. This law does nothing to address the differing technologies (nor do I think it should) that inhibit device portability to move from carrier to carrier.

 

-PopinFRESH


Edited by PopinFRESH - 8/2/14 at 1:11pm
post #26 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

ANY charge for an out-of-contract phone is indefensible.

Wait, wait, they made me pay $75 because I was still within my 36month contract. It would have been free had I asked them to unlock it after the 36months were up.
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Locking exists solely to remove competition, but locking is not the only block to competition.

You mean the signed contract itself being the other block to competition? Yes, I totally agree.

X-year contract AND a lock on the phone seems quite redundant.
post #28 of 38
So sad. Phones have been unlocked in Europe for years and years. Welcome to the 21 century.
post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziadjk View Post

Wait, wait, they made me pay $75 because I was still within my 36month contract. It would have been free had I asked them to unlock it after the 36months were up.

 

Nope. Ask them. I just called my carrier to confirm, and they charge for unlocking regardless of circumstance. I'll bet my left nut that every Canadian carrier has the same policy.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

Reply

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

Reply
post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

Nope. Ask them. I just called my carrier to confirm, and they charge for unlocking regardless of circumstance. I'll bet my left nut that every Canadian carrier has the same policy.

Really?! So they're thieves and blatant liars.. What a way to find out..
post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziadjk View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

Nope. Ask them. I just called my carrier to confirm, and they charge for unlocking regardless of circumstance. I'll bet my left nut that every Canadian carrier has the same policy.

Really?! So they're thieves and blatant liars.. What a way to find out..

 

Just checked around a little. Out of contract unlock from Fido is $50. Bell, $50. Telus, $35.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

Reply

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

Reply
post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziadjk View Post

Bell Canada allowed me to unlock my phone for $75, no questions asked. They said anyone could do it as long as 12months have passed after signing the contract (out of 36months in my case). 

 

The carrier that locked it has always been able to unlock it, if they choose to. 

 

What this has really done is to decriminalize if a third party does it. Like your current carrier or an outside company that has gotten access to the system somehow. Just like how they decriminalized jailbreaking. 

 

But the real issue still isn't solved. And that is that there is no law etc requiring carriers to unlock, or better yet, no locking at all. In many countries phones haven't been locked in ages. 

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by PopinFRESH View Post
 

As for locking, I wouldn't say it solely exists to remove competition. 


Locking is less about competition and more about making sure they get back their money. These companies are paying in as much as $500 on devices costs to get you to sign that two year contract. the idea is that X amount of your monthly bill is paying off the device. If you don't fulfill your two years then you haven't paid it off and the carrier is out money if you just walk. There was a time when enforcing that was a lot harder so locking you to one carrier was a way to make sure you were screwed until you paid up. 

 

Which is all well and good, if they are required to unlock it once the device is paid off. AND they should also be required to stop charging you for that device pay back if you don't leave. These are the laws we really need. Not some law that decriminalizes unlocking a device on your own (although it does nothing for the warranty voiding aspects or that the service you use might be doing so via unauthorized access to a computer system etc)

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #34 of 38
Halleluja. America, land of the Free. Stalwart of free enterprise- for whom?
It is illegal to lock a phone to a carrier in New Zealand, and has been for years.
iPhones can only be sold unlocked, and Apple has been happy to do so.
post #35 of 38
This is why having a coloured president pays off! Big up Obama!!!!
post #36 of 38
Originally Posted by Sangha187 View Post
This is why having a coloured president pays off! Big up Obama!!!!

 

Care to explain this delusion? In before “You’re racist! See, you’re even using white text; that proves it!” Also in before people mention the reliance of that quote on the medium in which it is being presented. There’s a word for this; I can’t remember it off hand.

post #37 of 38
Im just taking the "mick".
post #38 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Locking exists solely to remove competition, but locking is not the only block to competition.

Indeed.  With the Beats acquisition, Apple is going to have to worry about Popping too.

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