Obama Administration: Unlocking Phones Should Be Legal

March 5, 2013 | Andy Cush

A 100,000+ signature petition prompted the White House to weigh in on the current debate over the legality of unlocking cell phones so they can be used on different carriers, which erupted after the U.S. Copyright Office announced phones were no longer exempted to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Fortunately, the Obama administration came down on the side of consumers’ rights.

“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,” wrote White House Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, & Privacy R. David 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.”

Edelman wrote the Obama administration would support “range of approaches” to remedying the Copyright Office’s decision, including backing legislation that would make it clear that consumers are allowed to switch carriers. “We look forward to continuing to work with Congress, the wireless and mobile phone industries, and most importantly you — the everyday consumers who stand to benefit from this greater flexibility,” he continued, “To ensure our laws keep pace with changing technology, protect the economic competitiveness that has led to such innovation in this space, and offer consumers the flexibility and freedoms they deserve.”