Consumers asked the government to make unlocking cell phones legal with a recent petition that garnered 114,000 signatures, which prompted a White House response.
R. David Edelman, the Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy authored a statement saying that consumers who aren't bound by a service agreement should be able to unlock their cell phones or tablets with risking criminal or other penalties.
Edelman said this is crucial for protecting consumer choice and ensuring a competitive wireless market.
The petition was started after the Librarian of Congress changed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to make it a violation for consumers to unlock their phones, even after their contracts with wireless carriers ended. This change applied beginning in January 2013.
The change is especially important for secondhand mobile devices or those given as gifts. Edelman said all consumers deserve the flexibility to choose a network that meets their needs.
The White House suggestion a few options for addressing the issue, including legislative fixes, Federal Communications Commission changes, and through mobile providers.
The FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski also released a statement on the change to the DMCA, saying, From a communications policy perspective, this raises serious competition and innovation concerns, and for wireless consumers, it doesn't pass the common sense test.
Genchowski said the FCC is considering solutions the issue, but also encourages Congress to pursue a legislative solution.