Monday, March 4, 2013

White House responds to petition: unlocking phones should be legalized

White House responds to phone unlock petition
The recent ruling that effectively bans third-party phone unlocking has ruffled more than a few feathers, and the people have spoken with their electronic signatures -- 114,322 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. The author of the letter is R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy."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," Edelman writes. All told, the response matches that of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which wrote a letter to the Librarian of Congress in support of extending the exemption last year.

So what does this mean for us? Edelman states: "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're not going to see immediate change, but it appears that a chain of events is now in motion in which the FCC and Congress potentially play a huge role. We're not out of the woods yet, but it's relieving to see such a positive response -- along with a call to action -- from the government.

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