AT&T weighs in on cellphone unlocking, says DMCA change won't negatively affect its customers

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from  Omaha, NE
| March 8, 2013

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There's been quite a brouhaha lately surrounding the recent change to the DMCA that says that a consumer is no longer allowed to unlock his or her cellphone without permission from a carrier. A petition seeking a White House response on the matter earned 114,000 signatures, and the Obama administration then responded by saying that unlocking both phones and tablets should be legalized. Now a carrier has stepped in to weigh in on the whole thing, as AT&T has put up a post on its Public Policy Blog to explain where it stands on phone unlocking.

AT&T is pretty straightforward in sharing its stand on the cellphone unlocking situation, titling its post "Bottom line: We Unlock Our Customers' Devices" and pointing out that it allows iPhone owners to submit unlock requests using an online form. The big blue carrier explains that while it feels that the Librarian of Congress's decision to alter the DMCA was "reasonable," the ruling has "very little impact" on its subscribers because AT&T is willing to unlock the device of a customer that meets certain criteria. Those requirements include an account that's been active for 60 days and is in good standing, and that the subscriber has fulfilled his or her service agreement. AT&T adds that it will allow third-party unlocked devices on its network so long as they're not reported lost or stolen.

While AT&T's unlocking policy should work for most consumers, there are instances in which a consumer may not be able to get his or her device unlocked through AT&T and would be forced to use another method. For example, non-AT&T users may run into problems if they purchased an AT&T-locked device that they want to unlock. The good news for folks that'd like to see this recent DMCA change reversed is that that fight is continuing on, with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski vowing to investigate the matter and two senators announcing plans to introduce legislation to legalize unlocking. Have you ever gotten a device unlocked by going through your carrier?

Via AT&T Public Policy Blog