Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Thursday, June 21, 2018

The White House has issued a statement backing an online petition calling for the legalization of the unlocking of cellphones.

“The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cellphones without risking criminal or other penalties,” wrote R. David Edelman, President Obama’s Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, & Privacy.

“In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smartphones. 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.”

The White House petition site “We the People” originally promised a response to any petition that received more than 5,000,  then 25,000, signatures. After petitions to deport CNN’s Piers Morgan and secede from the United States easily hit that number, the White House upped the requirement to 100,000.

The official petition noted that the Librarian of Congress removed the unlocking of cell phones from the The Digital Millennium Copyright Act effective January 26, 2013, which could lead to exorbitant roaming fees and decreases in the resale value of cellphones.

“We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal,” the petition asked.

“So where do we go from here?” the petition response asks.

“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,” Edelman wrote, answering his own question.

The White House would also call on the FCC to play a role “promoting mobile competition and innovation.”

Continue reading for the entire text of the White House’s response.