Last October, a decision was finalized to drop support of keeping the act of unlocking cell phones without carrier consent (even after their contract has expired) a valid exception to the DMCA, essentially making cell phone unlocking illegal. Here we are, some four months and over one hundred thousand petition signatures later, and White House officials are taking an official stance on the matter. They fully support cell phone unlocking, and hope to change the laws governing the issue.
Shortly before the the ban on cell phone unlocking went into effect, on January 24, Open Signal founder Sina Khanifar started a petition that called for the necessary legal changes to give consumers the freedom they deserve, allowing them to unlock cell phones without legal repercussions. Today, after 114,322 total signatures, White House Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, and Privacy R. David Edelman has released a statement reflecting Washington’s stance on the matter.
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.David EdelmanWhite House Senior Advisor
The Library of Congress, who is essentially responsible for making cell phone unlocking illegal, stands by their original decision in not renewing cell phone unlocking as an exception to the DMCA, but has come out today to announce that they are open to change.
As for exactly how lifting the ban will work, Edelman has said that everything up to making legislative changes will be taken into consideration.
Living in a new age of digital exploration, testing the limits of our virtual freedom, and examining how new technologies fit into our current laws can certainly have its ups and downs. Today was most definitely a win for consumers. We’ll keep you updated on this story as it plays out over the course of the year.