White House backs unlocking cell phones

Following an over 114,000-signature petition submitted to the White House supporting the legality of unlocking phones, the White House has released an official statement supporting consumers’ rights to unlock cell phones and other devices to use on their network of choice. In a statement titled “It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking,” R.

David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, and Privacy, writes on behalf of the Obama administration 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.”

A policy update to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act recently made it illegal for owners of new cellphones to unlock devices unless authorized by carriers.

Edelman writes that the Obama administration would support a number of corrective approaches to the issue, including legislative fixes, and that the Federal Communications Commission “has an important role to play” — FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski released a statement today that the FCC is examining the issue, which “doesn’t pass the common sense test.”