FCC chairman talks cell phone unlocking and current ban

March 1, 2013
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As of late January it became illegal to unlock your phone. This came as a result of some changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that were actually put in place back in October 2012. Basically, as it stands now -- you are not allowed to unlock your phone. That simply means that you cannot buy a phone for one carrier and unlock it for use on another carrier.

This will probably not be all that much of an issue for most people, however putting that aside many feel that you should be able to do what you want with a device you paid for. To this point, a petition to make phone unlocking legal was started shortly after this went into effect. The petition hit the goal just a few days back and we have yet to hear any response on the matter.

More to the point though, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in speaking at CrunchGov was asked about the topic. Genachowski did say that the “ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns.” Further going on to note that this is "something that we will look at at the FCC to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones.”

As for if this will bring any change, maybe, but maybe not. If you look at the wording in that last statement you will notice the "see if we can and should" -- it is the latter that implies they are just going to investigate. Still, while this may not bring any change, it is nice to see that the FCC doesn't necessarily fully agree with the fact that it is now illegal to unlock a smartphone. This combined with the petition and maybe we will see some serious further discussion on the matter.

[via TechCrunch]


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  • Chahk Noir

    I’m starting to hold my breath … now!

  • http://twitter.com/usefulagenda Chris@UsefulAgenda

    it is now illegal to breath with out a permit. stupid people, its like the old ways trying to do anything to hold on, face it you guys wanted a new world, you got what you wanted, in this new world we are free , open and transparent, do not like it? too bad. Lucky in Canada it is still legal to unlock your own phone you paid for, I even called wind and got my unlock code for free.

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      lol right. This has gotta stop

  • Eye4Detail

    If you buy a subsidized phone, you’re not really buying it. It’s really more of a down payment on your contract.

    On the other hand, if you buy a phone outright (unsubsidized) then it should be required by law that the carrier unlock it, free of charge, at your request (or better yet, sell it unlocked in the first place).

    Big Dread wants me to buy a locked phone, full price to keep my unlimited plan…hello Nexus 4 and AT&T.

  • bxdanny

    A provision like this certainly has nothing to do with copyrights, so it doesn’t belong in the Copyright Act. Whether it is a legitimate “regulation” of “commerce… among the States” will be for the courts to decide. “Unlocking” was mostly done by small, local businesses, I think, so it wouldn’t be interstate commerce. Of course, the cell companies could put provisions forbidding unlocking into their contracts, but that would be a civil matter, not criminal.