Mobile Technology

FCC May Examine Mobile Phone Unlocking Ban

Investigating whether it harms competition

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Following an online uproar over a law banning the unlocking of cell phones, the Federal Communications Commission will investigate whether the ban is harmful to economic competitiveness and if the executive branch has any authority to change the law.

The "ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told me last night at a TechCrunch CrunchGov event at our San Francisco headquarters.

Until earlier this year, consumers were free to "unlock" their smartphones, which permitted them to switch carriers. For six years, the Library of Congress exempted cell phone unlocks from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans "circumvention" of copy protection schemes. The decision was reversed during the last round of triennial reviews.