White House files Petition with FCC to require Carriers to Unlock Mobile Devices

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The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration has just filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking that all carriers be required to unlock all mobile devices.

You probably know by now that unlocking a cell phone is illegal in the U.S. as it would be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Many consumers disagreed with this and started a White House petition in February, which appealed to the U.S. President to ask the Librarian of Congress, who originally deemed unlocking illegal in October last year, to reconsider the decision given the legitimate reasons a customer might want to unlock his or her carrier locked phone.

The petition needed 100,000 signatures to get an official response from the White House, which was achieved two days before the deadline by collecting over 114,000 signatures. Back in March, the White House responded to the petition agreeing that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties.

The Washington Post reports that the White House petition which was filed by  the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) also extends unlocking privileges to tablets, as well as cell phones. The NTIA has said that allowing unlocked mobile devices will increase competition and customer choice.

“Americans should be able to use their mobile devices on whatever networks they choose and have their devices unlocked without hassle,” said Lawrence Strickling, assistant secretary of the NTIA.

The FCC has also said that it supports unlocking of mobile devices, and has been investigating the ban on unlocking mobile phones since March.

It is not clear what are the next steps and how much time it will take for FCC to legalize cellphone unlocking again. However, as the White House’s action today shows that the administration continues to support cellphone unlocking.

[Via The Washington Post]