White House Backs Right to Unlock Cell Phones

From the New York Times:
For a decade consumers have been able to keep their cellphone numbers even if they switched their wireless carriers. On Monday, the Obama administration and the Federal Communications Commission said consumers should also be able to switch carriers and keep their actual phones.

For consumers, being able to take their iPhone or any other type of handset with them when they switch carriers could make it easier to take advantage of lower rates once an initial contract is fulfilled. That might mean more price competition and more choices for cellphone customers. 

The administration and the F.C.C., under Julius Genachowski, announced that they will urge Congress to overturn a ruling last year by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress that made it illegal for consumers to unlock their cellphones, opening the software that restricts most phones from working on another carrier’s network. . . .

Without a change, the potential consequences for unauthorized unlocking, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, are stiff: a $500,000 fine and five years in prison. 

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