White House Supports Unlockable Cell Phones

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Over 100,000 people petitioned the government to reverse a law making it illlegal to unlock your cellphone for use on other networks. They got the response they wanted.

It recently became illegal to unlock your smartphone for use on another network without the current network’s permission. We covered it here.

A petition to the White House sought to overturn that change, and got more than four times the number of signatures required for an official response. That response came Monday. Here’s part of what the president’s senior adviser for the internet said…

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. 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.

The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, also opposes the rule. So that means it’s OK to do now, right?

Nope, it’s still illegal to unlock your phone without your carrier’s permission. But this is a promising first step toward fixing it, and shows that democracy still works after all, sometimes.

Stacy Johnson

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