phoneUnlocking

White House Agrees Cell Phone Unlocking Should Be Legal

Over 114,000 US citizens who petitioned the White House to make cell phone unlocking legal again can breathe a sigh of relief from the official response agreeing with their claims.

wethepeople“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,” reads the reply from R. David Edelman, White House Senior Adviser for Internet, Innovation and Privacy.

Edelman went on to explain that decriminalizing unlocking mobile devices is “common sense” once a consumer has paid for it and their contract has expired. He also commented that the practice ensures competition in the wireless industry which benefits consumers with fair pricing, good service, and ground-breaking products.

The petition asked that the decision to criminalize actions taken to unlock cell phones be reversed. Unlocking devices is important because it allows users to switch wireless carriers once their contract is over, or choose an appropriate carrier for their needs if they receive a device as a gift, and so on.

In order to solve the concern at hand, Edelman recommends that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC work together on creating legislation allowing unlocking. He also stated that mobile carriers should take responsibility for establishing their own guidelines for protecting customer needs.

The response is a public relations boon for the White House, again making good on their promise to address any petition that garners over 100,000 signatures within 30 days on the official We the People website. The website began with an ill-advised low number of 5,000 required signatures. The condition grew to 25,000 as the public continued to display how many of us are willing to speak up, albeit from the safety of our computers. The threshold was recently increased again to 100,000, seemingly once the Obama administration observed the power the Internet when a petition to build a “Death Star” met the requirements. Other petitioned issues that have successfully earned a White House reaction include pet homelessness, human rights, and U.S. Postal Service reform.

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  • al_prath

    Practically, what does this mean? Is this now the new legal standard, or is it still going to need to be fought in a court of law, or in Congress? Thanks.