By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
A petition in the US to Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal is getting the support of the Obama government.
A report from VentureBeat notes that "R. David Edelman of the White House staff has responded, saying that “the White House agrees with the 114,000-plus of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cellphones without risking criminal or other penalties” and that “all consumers deserve that flexibility.”
Unlocking a celfone or smartphone simply means that it can be used on any compatible network. This is particularly useful for people who travel and don't want to use expensive roaming services. An unlocked device will be able to take other SIM cards and be used without any issue. Unlocking of celfones is a relatively easy process that requires the entry of a specific code into the phone to enable it's use with other SIM cards.
The Make Unlocking of Cell Phones Legal petition came into being as a reaction a Librarian of Congress decision that states, "As of January 26, consumers will no longer be able unlock their phones for use on a different network without carrier permission, even after their contract has expired."
Thie means carriers can deny subscribers' requests to unlock a celfone even if they've already paid off the device's value post-contract. This also means carriers can charge customers for the priviledge of getting their phones unlocked. They can charge customers whatever they see fit.
White House backing the Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal is a big win for American consumers. Hopefully this will set the tone for pro consumer telecoms legislation moving forward.