After Petition, White House Says Unlocking Cell Phones Should Be Legal

After more than 114,000 people signed a petition calling on the Library of Congress to reverse a ruling enacting criminal penalties for unlocking mobile devices, the White House issued a response Monday agreeing and listing several ways to address the problem.

“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,” reads an official response from R. David Edelman, the White House’s director of internet policy. “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. It’s common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers’ needs.”

The administration proposed several avenues to correct the decision, including legislative courses, working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and encouraging wireless providers to be more flexible with consumers.