White House backs the ‘unlocking’ of mobile devices
Published on Mar 4, 2013
The Library of Congress ruled that it is illegal to unlock your cell phone to be able to use it on another mobile network, but on Monday the White House responded to a public petition which had over 100,000 people wanting the Obama administration to take a stance on whether or not unlocking your cell phone should become illegal. An Obama’s senior adviser sided with petitioners claiming consumers pay for their mobile devices and “should be able to use it on another network.” RT’s Meghan Lopez has more.
Reply to petition: ‘It’s time to legalize cell phone unlocking’
By Paul McNamara on Mon, 03/04/13 – 2:01pm.
In a dramatic call for action directly prompted by 114,000 signatures on a “We the People” petition, the Obama Administration moments ago pledged to overturn a federal regulatory decision that had rendered the act of unlocking a cell phone illegal.
From a reply to the petition posted within the hour:
The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It’s common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers’ needs.
This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs — even if it isn’t the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.
The issue came to a head recently when the Library of Congress allowed to expire an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that until then protected those who would unlock their cell phones and those carriers who would court their business.
As for the next step:
The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.
We also believe the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with its responsibility for promoting mobile competition and innovation, has an important role to play here. FCC Chairman Genachowski today voiced his concern about mobile phone unlocking (.pdf), and to complement his efforts, NTIA will be formally engaging with the FCC as it addresses this urgent issue
Finally, we would encourage mobile providers to consider what steps they as businesses can take to ensure that their customers can fully reap the benefits and features they expect when purchasing their devices.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued a statement that reads:
- The White House Declares ‘It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking’ (iClarified.com)
- White House: It’s Time to Legalize Cellphone Unlocking (allthingsd.com)
- Cell phone unlocking petition: White House says YES (venturebeat.com)
- White House: “It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking” (webpronews.com)
- White House responds to cell phone unlocking petition (electronista.com)
- White House responds to phone unlock petition: ‘we agree with you’ (engadget.com)
- White House says ‘it’s time to legalize cell phone unlocking’ in official petition response (theverge.com)
- White House Says Cell Phone Unlocking Should Be Legalized (cultofmac.com)
- FCC will investigate ban on cell phone unlocking (pocketables.com)
- White House Officially Responds To Cell Phone Unlock Petition: “We Agree” (androidpolice.com)