White House to Support Phone Unlocking Law Change

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A public petition in the USA to legalise unlocking of mobile phones secured enough signatures to mandate a reply from the White House which says it supports the petition aims.

Over 114,000 people signed the petition which was prompted by the recent decision by the Copyright Office to reverse its longstanding position that unlocking phones is not a copyright violation, and that it is indeed a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for consumers to unlock new mobile phones, even those outside of contract periods, without their wireless providers' permission, and that consumers are subject to criminal penalties if they do.

In its reply, the White House said that it agreed with the petition that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties, and also noted that it feels the same about tablets -- which had not been explicitly included in the petitio.

The White House and Library of Congress agreed that the DMCA exception process is a rigid and imperfect fit for this telecommunications issue, and they now want to ensure this particular challenge for mobile competition is solved.

The Obama Administration said that it 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.

It is now for the politicians to draft the necessary changes so that US consumers can unlock their mobile phones.

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