By McKinley Noble | 03-04-2013 | 12:00PM

Over 110,000 U.S. citizens have collectively made an official argument supporting their belief that unlocking a self-owned smartphone should be well within their rights—and the White House agrees.

Stemming from a successful online "We the People" petition on the White House's official website, Obama Adminstration representative R. David Edelman—the senior advisor for "Internet, Innovation and Privacy"—has issued a response, saying that the White House completely sides with the public:

The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones.

And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.

That's a pretty clear-cut statement from the government, and in the wake of unlocking cell phones becoming an illegal practice (via Tech Crunch), that's possibly the strongest argument against the fairness of the law itself.

Last January, it was confirmed that unlocking your smartphone before the end of a contract with your carrier would be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, although the enforcement of the regulation was always a question mark due to the issue of personal use rights.

So, what does it mean for the law as it stands, now that the White House is stressing the need for a change?

Right now, the burden is on consumers to carefully choose their networks and service providers—but it's still highly unlikely that the police will start to actively hunt down people who root their own smartphones.

 


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