The White House on Monday agreed with petitioners who asked the Library of Congress to rescind a decision that removed the act of unlocking a smartphone from the legal exceptions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Buyers of smartphones and tablets should be able to unlock their devices “without risking criminal or other penalties,” R. David Edelman, White House senior adviser for Internet, innovation and privacy, wrote in response to the petition on Whitehouse.gov.
Phone unlocking entrepreneur Sina Khanifar started the petition in late January and more than 114,000 people signed it. The Obama administration has promised to respond to petitions that collect more than 100,000 signatures within a month.
Unlocking a phone is typically used to switch carriers. “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 wrote. “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.”
A legal protection for unlocking mobile phones expired in late January after the Librarian of Congress decided to leave it out of a list of exemptions under the DMCA.