Following up with our previous report on a White House petition to make unlocking cell phones legal once again, it looks as if the FCC will begin an investigation of the ban that has so many people upset – and rightfully so. As a reminder, the ban on unlocking went into effect when the cell phone exemption to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act expired in January.
The ban does not involve rooting or jailbreaking, but rather SIM-unlocking your phone without your carrier’s permission in order to use it on another carrier’s network. AT&T and T-Mobile customers would be most affected by this, although certain Verizon and Sprint phones that are GSM-capable have removable SIMs, too. This ban is designed to protect carriers, who claim that phone subsidies are one of their biggest expenses each year.
According to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the “ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns.” He admitted that he wasn’t sure how much legal authority he actually has in the matter, but regardless, “It’s something that we will look at at the FCC to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones.”
Meanwhile, we are still waiting on an official response from the White House regarding the petition, which currently has over 114,000 signatures.
[TechCrunch] Thanks, Paul!
Update: Shortly after publication, the White House did in fact announce that it agrees with those who signed the petition, and even extended this to tablets. The full text can be viewed here.