Earlier this year an exemption in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act expired and effectively made it illegal for consumers to unlock without explicit permission from their carriers. There was quite a bit of backlash to the decision, and after a petition to reverse the decision gained over 100,000 signatures, the White House officially issued a statement saying that consumers that have paid for a device and aren't bound to a service agreement should be free to unlock their hardware.
The Obama administration today filed a petition with the FCC
asking that all carriers be required to provide unlocks for all mobile
hardware. In the petition, the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration requests that the FCC begins work on new
rules that would place the burden of unlocking mobile hardware on the
carriers and require that they provide unlocks in a consistent and swift
no guarantee yet that any FCC action will be taken as a result of this
petition, but it's good to see the White House finally taking action on
this issue and working to make unlocking mobile hardware easier for
consumers. It's also worth noting that the petition includes the
unlocking of tablets and other wireless devices in addition to phones.