AT&T’s DMCA Unlock Response Misses the Point
AT&T released a statement this morning on its Public Policy Blog, in response to the recent grass-roots efforts seeking legislative action to remove the DMCA prohibition on carrier-unlocking smartphones. AT&T contends that such action isn’t necessary, as the current situation permits carriers to unlock phones at their customers’ request, which AT&T says it’s more than happy to do. The problem is, that totally ignores a significant, legitimate class of users looking to unlock phones.
AT&T says that it will happily unlock phones for “any customer whose account has been active for at least sixty days; whose account is in good standing and has no unpaid balance; and who has fulfilled his or her service agreement commitment.”
What about subscribers who sell their used, locked phones to people that aren’t interested in using them on AT&T? From what the carrier’s saying, these new owners would have to become AT&T subscribers themselves for at least two months before it would acquiesce to their unlocking requests and free them to take their phones elsewhere.
It’s all just a stunningly short-sighted response. No, the existing unlocking laws don’t generally have a negative effect on current AT&T subscribers. The problem is that the group of people who might be interested in unlocking AT&T-locked phones is a whole lot larger than just current subscribers.