Last January 26 phone unlocking became illegal in the US due to the activation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This created a huge concern on people who had devices locked to a particular network and wanted it unlocked. An online petition was thus created and addressed to the White House to make cellphone unlocking legal which is so far supported by 114,322 signatories.
The White House has now officially responded to this petition basically stating that they agree that phone unlocking should be made legal. After discussions from various government experts the White House said that “The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. 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.”
The Obama administration is now planning to address the issue and say that they would even support legislative fixes to this.
Cellphones that are subsidized by carriers are usually locked to that particular network. While this may not be a problem for people who don’t travel a lot this is a big issue for travelers since they will be charged with roaming charge fees when they want to use their phones outside the country. To bypass roaming charges what is usually done is to just buy a local SIM from a particular country an insert it in the phone. This works for an unlocked device but will not work if you have a locked phone.