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White House supports petition to legalize cell phone unlocking

Published Mar 4th, 2013 3:10PM EST
Smartphone Unlocking White House

A petition asking the Obama administration to reverse a decision made by the Librarian of Congress last fall to deny consumers the right to unlock their phones and bring them to different carriers recently garnered more than 100,000 signatures, prompting a formal response from the government. The White House on Monday came out in support of the petition, noting that consumers ought to be allowed to unlock their devices if they so choose.

R. David Edelman, White House senior advisor for Internet, innovation, and privacy, noted that “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.” He went on to say that not only is it crucial for protecting consumer choice, but it is also “important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers’ needs.”

The Obama Administration will “support a range of approaches to addressing this issue,” Edelman said, adding that “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.”

In addition to supporting legislation, the Administration plans to encourage mobile providers to take steps to ensure that their customers can “fully reap the benefits and features they expect when purchasing their devices.”