White House hits out at mobile unlocking laws

The telecoms industry has woken up with a bad case of democracy after the White House decided laws which make it illegal to unlock mobile phone were wrong.

More than 100,000 people signed the petition protesting the ban on switching imposed by the Library of Congress, which took effect in January.

Much to the horror of the telcos, the White House has agreed with the petitioners, saying that mobile phone users should be allowed to switch their devices to any mobile carrier.

According to Reutersthe telecoms industry argues that mobile phones should be locked to prevent them moving freely across networks. They say that they subsidise the phones so people should be forced to stick to them.

But the petition argued that preventing unlocking reduces consumer choice and resale value of phones.

David Edelman, a senior advisor for Internet, Innovation, & Privacy to the Obama administration, wrote in the White House’s response that the White House agreed with the 114,000+ signees who believe consumers should be able to unlock their mobiles without becoming criminals.

He said that it is important for second hand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets their needs.

Edelman said that all consumers deserve that flexibility.

The Library of Congress said the question would benefit from further debate and that its intention was not to supplant public policy discussion.

So it looks like there are going to be a few more debates before anyone is actually carted off to prison.