News by Andrew Kameka on Monday March 04, 2013.
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The Obama administration agrees with the 114,000 people who signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition urging more legal freedom for unlocking smartphones, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has joined in voicing his agency's support to make it easier to unlock phones or tablets that are not under carrier agreements. The "Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal" petition requested that the White House push the Library of Congress to reform laws that make it illegal to unlock a mobile phone without the permission of another carrier. After reviewing the matter with advisors, the Obama administration endorses consumers having the freedom to unlock devices that are no longer under carrier contract or were purchased without subsidy. R. David Edelman - a White House Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, & Privacy - wrote the following in his official response to the petition:
"The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation."
Support from the executive branch of the government does not mean that the laws concerning cell phone unlocking will change. Congress has the power to enact the laws that would make it easier to bring phones from one service to another, so change would have to come from the legislature. Edelman says the Obama administration will work with Congress to propose a solution to the issue. The FCC has been reluctant to become involved because of questions about jurisdiction, but FCC Chairman Genachowski today said that his agency is investigating unlocking for issues about consumer freedom and competition. Genachowski also urged Congress to consider a legislative solution that would restore consumer options.source: WhiteHouse.gov
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.