Smartphone owners in the United States have made their voices heard: when it comes to network-unlocking handsets, they don’t want the carriers getting the final word. While until recently, an exemption to the DMCA let users unlock their own phones without fear of legal repercussions, a recent reevaluation of those exemptions removed the protection for unlocking. In an effort to bring unlocking back, concerned users signed a petition requesting the White House to do something about the situation. After crossing the 100,000 signature threshold, the petition was guaranteed a response, and today the administration has followed through. Its message is clear: “it’s time to legalize cell phone unlocking.”
The White House agrees that owners of both smartphones and tablets should be able to move to the carriers of their choice, once any initial contractual obligations have been met. That’s in contrast to the current state of affairs, where a carrier can refuse to unlock a device even after your contract is over.
The administration calls the need for unlocking devices “common sense,” and points to the positive effect it would have on competition within the market. Now, it can’t simply override the most recent exemption ruling, but it has some ideas about how to fix things. One would be introducing new legislation, specifically granting unlocking rights to consumers.
It might take a while to happen, but it seems clear that your message got through, and change should be coming.