Mar 04 AT 9:06 PM Dustin Earley 17 Comments

White House in full support of legalizing cell phone unlocking


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.

Via: The Verge

Source: White House Peitions

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • herbivore83

    I don’t see this moving anywhere anytime soon. Congress and the Executive Branch have bigger fish to fry.

    • kazahani

      I disagree. I think that they will continue to completely ignore our impending economic and financial doom to focus on “Issues affecting the people” such as this.

    • scubabum

      I hope that they pass a law which states something like “unlocking a phone is legal” instead of
      making it as an exception to a DCMA by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, which is
      subject to renewal every few years.

      Make it permanent as it should be. Then the consumers don’t have to revisit this every few years.

  • hokiewv

    Even when unlocking becomes legal again, I’m going to stick with buying an unlocked phone. Even though I currently don’t have my Galaxy Nexus unlocked and rooted, I am comforted by the fact that it is easy to do and won’t be intentionally made more difficult with a future software update.

  • Dave Kratter
  • Sam G

    All this means is that carrier subsidies will reduce and people who buy phones locked will end up paying more.

    • LukeT32

      I think carrier subsidies will be going away eventually anyway.

    • Jazzy

      The fact that you can move an unlocked phone around to different carriers is good. Reduces the number of phones thrown away because the carrier Consumer A doesn’t accept it

  • donger

    Go Congress.

  • Nathan D.

    They are actually something we like for once, hopefully it not the last

  • joogleme16

    It’s about time! The government took a stance for the consumers!

  • aranea

    It’s 2013. I can’t believe we are still discussing this. It should have been legal many many years ago!

    • Joel

      Thank you! Well said.

      “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.”

      Just figuring that out?

      • aranea

        The Library of Congress hasn’t figured it out yet.

  • pwincezz

    This is really annoying :(

  • pwincezz


  • lorzy

    Got a good response from the white house about legalizing cell phone unlocking. here is the source:

    The recent ruling that effectively bans third-party unlocking has ruffled more than a few feathers, and the people have spoken with their electronic signatures—14,322 of them , to be exact. Now the petition to the White House, which asks that DMCA protection of phone unlockers be reconsidered, has finally received an official response, and it appears that it’s for the positive.
    You can still get your phone unlocked from any third party vendors like there is no issue