Consumer group to FCC: Let people unlock cellphones

Under a ruling issued last year by the Librarian of Congress, customers must obtain their carrier's permission to unlock their phones, even if their contract has expired. The Librarian is a legislative branch agency with jurisdiction in the area.

That rule could be lifted either through legislation or executive branch regulation, Consumers Union contends.

The group is also seeking language that would ensure consumer rights to shop separately for phones and service. Some carriers require consumers to sign up for a service agreement when they buy a new devise.

“In our view, tying these two purchases together provides no benefit to consumers,” the group wrote, “Instead, it steers consumers into long-term service contracts that then make it difficult to switch service providers.”