In response to a petition bearing over 114,000 signature, the White House expressed that it is in favor of making it legal for people to unlock their mobile handsets from the cellular carrier they purchased it from, as long as its contract period and other obligations are complete. A large portion of U.S. mobile handset sales are handled by cellular carriers, who subsidize the handset or initial cost, in exchange for a the handset to remain bound to the carrier. Usually these subscription periods are finite, yet users are not able to switch carriers when they're no longer bound by service agreements or other obligations. The Obama administration is in favor of changing that.
The official response penned down by R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy, stated:
The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if 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.
While there won't be immediate changes, the response could trigger a chain of events involving the FCC and Congress, which could lead up to them. The text of the entire response can be accessed here.