Obama: Unlocking phones should be legal, despite DMCA

White House agrees with petitioners.

Obama cellphone unlock DMCA

After a petition exceeded 100,000 signatures, Obama's White House issues a statement saying cellphone unlocking shouldn't be illegal. The Administration effectively says the DMCA is an ass (at least in this regard). The FCC and Library of Congress agree, but the wireless-carrier industry doesn't (natch).

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder what'll happen next.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Grant Gross gets going:

The White House on Monday agreed with petitioners [that] the act of unlocking a smartphone [should be] legal...under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). ... R. David Edelman, White House senior adviser for Internet, innovation and privacy, wrote..."If you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by...obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. ... It's common sense."

...

The Obama administration would support a "range of approaches" to addressing mobile phone unlocking, including legislation and action by the [FCC].  MORE

Ina Fried adds background and reax:

The Librarian of Congress, who has authority over the matter, ruled last October that the [DMCA says] unauthorized cellphone unlocking was a violation. ... Unlocked cellphones help create a secondary market for devices, and also are key to the strategy of several alternative carriers.

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The Library of Congress responded by saying it was just doing its job...and that if its decision helped stimulate debate about the law, all the better. ... [FCC] Chairman Julius Genachowski...urg[ed] various alternatives be explored to reverse the ban.

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[But] CTIA — the wireless trade group representing cellphone carriers — supported the logic behind the original unlocking ban.  MORE

But Darlene Storm sounds cynical:

...people are fed up with various shades of copyright cops and increasingly stupid decisions like Six Strikes.

...

[But] in reality, what is going to happen to change this unpopular and unwise move making the unlocking of cellphones illegal?  MORE

And Paul McNamara vibrates variously:

there's always the possibility that what appears to be a ban reversal will turn out to be something less.  MORE

Mark Tarrabain agrees with Obama, "but not for why most think":

...laws which protect locked cell phones from being tampered with...creat[e] an incentive (however slight) for cell phone providers to actually distribute locked cell phones.

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It's the same problem as with outlawing the breaking of encryption on copyrighted works [which] support[s] a particular business model or technology that [isn't] what consumers really want.

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It might not be immediately obvious, but it's certainly not rocket science. ... I only wish more people could see it.  MORE

Meanwhile, Momma D. can't resist a policical point:

The real news item here is that a We The People petition actually garnered a thought-out response, instead of a boilerplate.

...

First time for everything...  MORE

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