Monday March 4, 2013 6:05 pm
White House responds to petition, says cell phone unlocking should be legalized
It started as a petition needing only 100,000 signatures requesting that the White House make an official response to the right of cellphone owners to lawfully unlock their cellphones. The Library Of Congress deemed unlocking one's cellphone illegal in October 2012; a ruling that would take affect in the new year. Now, the White House has officially announced that they too agree with the 114K petitioners. It recommends that cellphones be unlocked as long as the customers first meet their carrier's contractual agreement. The White House has even included tablets to the list of devices. Consequently, the Library of Congress has agreed and support the review their policy, which was strongly urged by the FCC.
"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." - White House Administration
"Both the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights value our colleagues in the administration and the thoughtful discussions we have had with them on this issue. We also agree with the administration that the question of locked cell phones has implications for telecommunications policy and that it would benefit from review and resolution in that context." - Library of Congress
“The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress recently reversed its longstanding position and stated it is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for consumers to unlock new mobile phones, even those outside of contract periods, without their wireless providers’ permission, and that consumers are subject to criminal penalties if they do. From a communications policy perspective, this raises serious competition and innovation concerns, and for wireless consumers, it doesn't pass the common sense test. The FCC is examining this issue, looking into whether the agency, wireless providers, or others should take action to preserve consumers' ability to unlock their mobile phones. I also encourage Congress to take a close look and consider a legislative solution." - Julius Genachowski FCC Chairman
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