The next step for advocates of phone unlocking is legislation that will give people who open up their devices -- with or without carrier permission -- legal protection.
In October, the Library of Congress canceled an exemption that protected unlocking cell phones without carrier permission. The decision, which effectively banned legal unlocking, sparked public contention: More than 114,000 people signed a petition demanding that the ban be lifted. Yesterday, the White House added its name to the ban's list of opponents, declaring "It's time to legalize cell phone unlocking."
The White House response was unequivocal in its defense of the practice -- and not just with regard to cell phones, but also tablets:
[I]f 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.
If you're unfamiliar, unlocking is a software tweak that disables a phone's SIM lock. Once the device is unlocked, owners can use a different service provider. Most cell phones come locked, though unlocked version of some phones -- including the iPhone 5 from Verizon and Google's Nexus 4 -- are available for purchase.