Friday, March 15, 2013

Obama Administration Moving to Amend Provisions for ‘Unlocking’ Mobile Phones

The administration under President Obama is planning for reversal of a new prohibition related to unlocking mobile phones.

The move was taken after a protest movement over the internet that drew over 1-lakh signatures.

Legal banning to unlock new phones is a federal crime.

Consumers cannot unlock their mobile phones for using a different wireless network without taking the permission to do so from their present carrier.

Various groups, protecting public interest, have come forward to oppose the ban on unlocking.

Such a legal provision would leave a consumer to buy new phones whenever he or she would need to switch wireless carriers.

On the other hand, unlocking phones also increases resalable quality of second hand devices, after completion of the contract with original service provider.

The ban imposes legal fine and imprisonment in case any one is found to tamper with the phone devices for making them compatible to access various service networks.

Former staff or House Republican Study Committee, Derek Khanna, has put forward several factors in support of ban reversal.

He argued that the ban violets rights of property by an owner.

After completion of the contract with the service provider, customers can do whatever they want with the gadgets, since they are the sole owners of the devices.

Imposing banning on unlocking by the state means infringement upon constitutional freedom and right of consumers.

The ban on unlocking mobile gadgets has its roots in Section 1201 of Digital Millennium Copyright Act, stating that no one should be allowed to circumvent technological measures that prove effective to control access to any protective work.

Response from Obama administration

The administration under President Obama has announced that they believe unlocking of phones should be made legal. According to a senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy, R. David Edelman, no law can challenge a consumer for switching phone networks after the contract expires. Edelman further added that the administration under Obama would certainly support various approaches to address the issue. This would even include several narrow legislative fixes over the space of telecommunication. Response to the move Various groups have welcomed such a move that hints towards protecting consumers’ rights. Vice President of Legal Affairs at Public Knowledge, Sherwin Siy, stated that the administration has finally recognized important problems that tend to tread upon rights of a consumer, while using their own products. Congress Librarian, James H. Billington has even decided to place e three-month-window to allow consumers unlock new gadgets. However, expiration of the window two months back had made the process of unlocking illegal. However, a senior Vice President General Counsel of wireless industry group CTIA, Michael Altschul mentioned that reversal of the legal ban is unnecessary since customers can choose over innumerable options provided to them. They can choose their favorite carrier network supported phones or even purchase an unlocked version of mobile gadgets at lower prices. They can even enter into a contract with their favorite service provider before accessing the service. In spite of various sections hailing this ban reversal, the move by the government will have a tremendous impact on the market since the state s divided in the matter.

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