White house responds to a petition calling for US phone unlocking ban to be scrapped
The White House has stated that phone unlocking in the US should be legal and that consumers should be free to switch their devices to any mobile operator of their choice.
The practice has been outlawed since January by the Library of Congress under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which rules “No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.”
However a petition signed by more than 100,000 people has called for this to be overturned, and the White House has now said the government supports this.
Phone unlocking debate
“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,” said R David Edelman, senior advisor for Internet, innovation and privacy. “In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones.”
Many in the telecoms industry have argued that phones should continue to be locked because of the subsidised price offered by operators to customers who take out long contracts, while others, like Apple say that unlocked devices pose a cyber-security threat. However, the petition argues that this restricts consumer choice and the ability to sell the phones on.
“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,” added Edelman. “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.”
In any case, it has been suggested that the practice could soon fall out of favour with US operators as the cost of subsidising the devices is simply too high.
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