updated 08:36 am EDT, Wed September 18, 2013
Proposal designed to protect consumers
The US Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration has formally petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to implement rules forcing carriers to unlock cellphones and other mobile devices. The proposal argues that subscribers should be able to simply ask for a device to be unlocked for use on another compatible network.
"Americans should be able to use their mobile devices on whatever networks they choose and have their devices unlocked without hassle," said NTIA administrator Lawrence E. Strickling in a statement that was quoted by DSL Reports.
The FCC request has been issued in response to a Library of Congress change to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which no longer includes an explicit exemption that allows consumers to unlock new phones without carrier permission. Public outcry was brought to the White House's attention through a We The People petition asking for the exemption to upheld.
The NTIA suggests the FCC can add the protections to Part 20 of its current regulations. A group of US Representatives early this year submitted their own legislative proposal, the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013, that would serve the same basic purpose.