Just last month we shared a story that as of January 26th it is now illegal to unlock your carrier locked contract subsidized smartphone in the United States. Needless to say, there was a huge response to this story, and almost all of it was anger and frustration. Since then a petition was filed which quickly garnered the 100,000 votes needed to get the attention of the White House for review.
In the mean-time we have some additional good news regarding this story to share today. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission plans to investigate the matter to the extent that it can. Chairman Julius Genachowski of the FCC shared that the organization will probe the matter because the ban "raises competitive concerns." The only stumbling block is that the FCC isn't sure how much legal authority it will have in the matter, so it is unclear what it can do. Still, he plans "to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones." Here's a quote with a few more details,
Whether anything actually gets changed by this action directly isn't important. The fact that people in our government are concerned by it and intend to review it further is a great sign. The more we can shine a spotlight on the importance of this issue, the more likely it will be for us to see a change.The Copyright Office reviews the rules on unlocking (and jailbreaking) every three years, as required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This time around, regulators found that "there are ample alternatives to circumvention. That is, the marketplace has evolved such that there is now a wide array of unlocked phone options available to consumers."
As a result, U.S. consumers can no longer unlock their phones unless they get permission from their carriers.
Opponents argue that the decision reduces consumer choice, will open up regular mobile phone users to carrier lawsuits, and create more e-waste.
OpenSignal's Sina Khanifar, who tangled with Motorola over unlocking years ago, created a White House petition asking the administration to overturn the Copyright Office's decision. It recently passed the 100,000 e-signature threshold required for an official White House response.