White House Says It’s Time to Legalize Cellphone Unlocking
The White House has issued a response to a petition signed by 114,000+ U.S. cellphone owners asking their government to support the rights of consumers to unlock their cellphones.
Turns out, the executive branch supports those mobile phone owners who would like to unlock their devices once they have fulfilled the terms of the contract without risking criminal or other penalties.
R. David Edelman, White House senior adviser for Internet, innovation and privacy, informed the petitioners that the same rights should also extend to tablets. The White House’s position comes as welcome support for each U.S. cellphone owner who has paid for his/her mobile device and isn’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation.
In this context, any cellphone owner in the US who wants to switch networks is free to do it, as it is “common sense, crucial for protecting customer 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,” Edelman wrote.
As of January 26th, unlocking cellphones became illegal, as the Librarian of Congress ruled last October that unauthorized cellphone unlocking violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Despite the Library of Congress’ decision – which thinks there are plenty of unlocked devices out there – the White House seems to agree with customers who believe that once the terms of the contract have been fulfilled, the cellphone should be free to be unlocked legally.
Now the White House asks the Librarian of Congress to revoke the earlier decision, and “champion a bill that makes unlocking legal.”
The Library of Congress’ reply: It was just doing its job by following the provisions of the DMCA.
Even the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Julius Genachowski has added its voice to this debate, saying the LoC decision raises serious competition and innovation concerns, and “for wireless consumers, it doesn’t pass the common sense test.”