Earlier this week, the NTIA made good on the Obama Administration’s promise to push for a fix to the phone unlocking problem. NTIA filed a petition for rulemaking with the FCC, requesting that mobile carriers be required to unlock phones and other wireless devices upon request. The rule the NTIA proposes is clean and straightforward, and it would go a long way toward improving consumer choice in the market for mobile communications.
Perhaps the best feature of the NTIA’s approach is that it skips the absurd debate over copyright and DMCA exemptions and treats phone unlocking as what it is – a telecom issue. (To review: the DMCA contains provisions that prohibit circumvention of access control technologies, but allow the Copyright Office to grant exemptions. The Copyright Office recently declined to provide an exemption for mobile phone unlocking, triggering an active debate and promises from both Congress and the Administration to fix the problem.)
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