Earlier this year, a new law was passed in the United States that prevented owners of mobile phones from unlocking their devices and using it on another network without carrier authorization. The law also prevents users from taking unlocked phones abroad and using them on local carriers there. However, the law is now being protested by many users who believe that they should be able to switch their mobile phones to any carrier they choose.
Soon after the law went into effect, a “We The People” petition was created which stated that if 100,000 people signed, the White House would release a response on the issue. As of Monday, the Obama Administration is fully supporting the petition and White House advisor R. David Edelman issued an official response, mentioning that consumers should be able to unlock both mobile phones and tablets without facing penalties.
The White House 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. And 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. 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.
This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs — even if it isn’t the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.
Despite Edelman’s response detailing plans for negotiation on the issue with both the Federal Communications Commission and mobile carriers, the Library of Congress is defending its position on the issue. Unlocking mobile phones, particularly Apple’s iPhone has been a major issue that has affected many users. This is an issue that is now being taken to a governmental level, although it is arguable that this is an issue that can be solved between the consumers and carriers.