White House files petition with the FCC asking that unlocked mobile devices be made legal again

White House files petition with the FCC asking that unlocked mobile devices be made legal again

The White House has officially filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today asking the agency to overturn its ban on unlocked devices, thereby making it legal and possible for consumers to switch between carriers.

The Obama administrations actions come nearly six months after it responded to a petition from the American public asking for recourse after the FCC ruled unlocking phones illegal according to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

More than 114,000 Americans signed a petition claiming that by continuing to make locked cell phones legal, it would force consumers to pay “exorbitant roaming fees to make calls while traveling abroad.” The case was also made that it would reduce the choice people had in phones to buy while also devaluing their devices for potential resale.

In the government’s response from March, the White House reasoned:

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.

This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs — even if it isn’t the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.

Whether this will affect all mobile devices, including tablets, remains to be seen. But based on the Obama administration’s last comment on the matter, it wants all the devices to be unlocked.

Obama administration urges FCC to require carriers to unlock mobile devices (Washington Post)

Photo credit: John Moore/Getty Images

Read next: LinkedIn files legal challenge against US government to reveal data requests