White House Official Response: Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking

White House Official Response: Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking


A law went into effect earlier this year that effectively made it illegal for you to unlock your phone. Naturally, many mobile enthusiasts weren’t happy about that decision, so they put together a petition and got over 100,000 signatures. The White House was then compelled to respond and now they have.

The official White House response to the petition, as written by Senior Advisor R. David Edelman, is that it “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. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones.”

That’s good news. How is it, then, that the White House allowed that unlocking ban to come into effect in the first place? Edelman explains that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) voiced “strong support for maintaining the previous exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for cell phone carrier unlocking,” but the Librarian of Congress eliminated that exception anyway. And the White House recognizes that the Librarian of Congress has the legal right to do that.

With all sorts of other things going on in the country and abroad, it’s understandable that this issue is pretty low on the priority list for the Obama Administration. That said, they do recognize it and they would “support a range of approaches,” specifically stating that the FCC “has an important role to play here.” Nothing has changed yet, but at least the petition has made a blip on the radar. Obama hears you.