Feature Article

April 05, 2013

Golden Frog Joins Growing Coalition of Permanent Unlocking Petitioners

Ever since the word first landed that the Librarian of Congress--who was set to determine exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)--decided that unlocking mobile phones was to be considered illegal under the terms of the DMCA, a wide variety of users have risen up in defense of the practice of unlocking mobile phones. Yesterday, Golden Frog--an app developer and global software company--announced that it too is one of those users that want to see unlocking made legal, joining in with the growing numbers petitioning Congress for a permanent exemption for unlocking devices.

The ability to unlock mobile devices, reportedly, brings with it many benefits for consumers. Not only does it keep the resale value of mobile devices high, it also expands the overall field of consumer choice, maintains openness in the environment, and allows for the possibility of reduced roaming fees while traveling abroad.

Golden Frog recently published a Vision Paper defining several of the benefits associated with unlocking, and further elaborated on the benefits of Internet access that is both open and free, believing that mobile devices should be part of this environment. Further, Golden Frog expressed a belief that copyright shouldn't be used restrictively to keep customers with a single service provider, and encouraged users from all walks of life to join it in keeping the Internet open and free for all.

The response to the mobile unlocking issue has been quite pronounced so far, with a recent White House petition pulling well over the newly-required 100,000 signatures needed to prompt an official White House response. The petition pulled in 114,322 signatures, and the response from the White House was quite clearly on the side of those who, like Golden Frog, wanted cell phone unlocking. More specifically, the White House's statement backed a number of potential solutions, from what the statement called "narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space" to backing a joint response from the NTIA and the FCC.

Congress, meanwhile, has seen this particular sea change and has begun preparations to handle it. Fully three Senate bills, and one House bill, have already been introduced to take on the issue of mobile device unlocking, and from the look of it, several more are set to follow. Considering that this is an issue that clearly has quite a bit of support among the regular voting public, it's very likely that at least one of these bills--or maybe even one of the others that are said to be on the approach already--will get the necessary backing.

It's hard not to be in favor of an "open and free Internet." It's even harder to see why it's a problem to unlock a device to allow users to switch networks as need be, and keep the idea of secondhand devices viable. Thus it's pretty easy to see why there has not only been a substantial outcry against the new provisions, but also a likewise substantial groundswell of support to stop the new provisions at the legislative level. Hopefully before too much more time has passed, the new "legislative fixes" will be put in place and the rights of device holders are fully considered.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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