Unlocking Cell Phones Legal? The Official White House Response

Are you thinking about changing cellular phone providers? Don’t expect to bring your cellphone with you. An October 2012 decision by the Library of Congress removes the unlocking of cell phones from the list of exceptions to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).  A locked cell phone will only operate with the cellular company where it was purchased. Unlocking a cell phone frees the device for use with another cellular carrier.  As of January 26, 2013 consumers are prohibited from unlocking their mobile devices and using them on a different network unless they receive consent from the device’s original carrier.

Public Reaction and Outcry

As many experts predicted, the decision received heavy backlash from the public and the White House agreed.  The official response stated, “The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.” However, it does not state what the White House will do to get the decision repealed.  For now, the average consumer is urged to follow the situation closely and choose devices and carriers wisely.

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