White House Wants to Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal

The Obama administration is taking a position on unlocking cell phones — namely, that it should be legal.

The statement — by R. David Edelman, the administration’s Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation & Privacy — comes in response to a successful petition on the administration’s “We the People” website, reports the Associated Press.

More than 114,000 people signed the petition calling for the legalization of phone unlocking. Currently, unlocking a cell phone — which allows users to keep their device when switching networks and carriers — carries the risk of both criminal and civil prosecution.

The official position Edelman put forth says owners of mobile devices — tablet computers as well as cell phones — should be able to unlock them provided they paid for the device and are under no service agreement or other obligation. The administration believes such a move would protect consumer choice and promote innovation and competition.

The administration is asking that the government organizations responsible for such things — including the Federal Communications Commission and the Librarian of Congress — put together a plan that would take this view into account. It would support a set of narrowly written legislative acts that dealt with the unlocking of mobile devices should such be proposed by congress.

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