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The White House announces support for mobile phone unlocking

Taking steps to reverse the law
Tue Mar 05 2013, 14:19
An old mobile phone

THE WHITE HOUSE has called for reversing a recent interpretation of law making the unlocking of mobile phones illegal.

In January the US made it illegal for anyone to unlock mobile phones allowing them to be used on any wireless network, a change that unsurprisingly resulted in public protest.

The White House has responded to a petition by saying that it believes unlocking mobile phones should be legal and that the ability to do so is important to ensure that the wireless market is competitive. The response comes after more than 114,000 people signed an online petition urging it to look into the matter.

David Edelman, senior advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy 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. 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."

Edelman indicated that the Obama administration will support legislative changes to ensure that unlocking mobile phones is not an illegal activity. He said that the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will work together to rectify what is clearly a poorly thought out law.

Edelmen said consumers deserve the flexibility of being able to unlock mobile devices that are bought second hand or received as a gift and to "activate on the wireless network that meets your needs".

The US administration's talk of flexibility and competition is not surprising, and it doesn't need to go very far back in corporate history to see how American consumers suffered when there was no choice among telecoms operators.

It looks like the White House has heard the public protest over the ban and is starting to take the first steps to reverse it. µ


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