FCC Might Investigate Whether Or Not Ban On Cell Phone Unlocking Should Have Been Allowed

from the obama-administration-vs.-obama-administration dept

This one is so odd I almost wonder if there were some key points lost in translation (not in language, but from "policy wonk speak" to "journalist speak"). We've talked plenty about the recent move by the Librarian of Congress not to renew the DMCA exemption for unlocking your mobile phone. That story kicked up a lot of anger and protests from people. And while there has been some talk of trying to convince the administration to change the ruling, the general sense seemed to be that the issue would just wait for the review period, which happens ever three years.

However, Greg Ferenstein at TechCrunch is reporting that FCC boss Julius Genachowski claimed that not only were there "concerns" about the ruling, but also that the FCC was going to investigate the matter:
The "ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns."
Of course, he also admitted that he might not have any actual authority over this particular issue (he doesn't). As great as it would be for some other agency within the same administration to come out and counter another agency concerning this issue, that still seems unlikely. The FCC's mandate almost certainly doesn't stretch so far as to permit unlocked phones, but it sounds like Genachowski is interested in seeing if he can find some way to find that authority somewhere, somehow.
Genachowski isn't sure what authority he has, but if he finds any, given the tone of the conversation, it's likely he will exert his influence to reverse the decision. "It's something that we will look at at the FCC to see if we can and should enable consumers to use unlocked phones."
In the end, I can't see how the FCC has a legitimate say in the matter, even if I agree with their stance that consumers should be able to unlock their phones.
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Filed Under: anti-circumvention, dmca, exemptions, fcc, julius genachowski, mobile phone unlocking, unlocking


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  1. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 1 Mar 2013 @ 2:08pm

    Re: If you don't want a locked phone, don't buy one!

    I don't understand your problem with the ruling.


    The problem is that it's hard to think up a more blatant and obvious abuse of copyright law than this.

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