Couple of months ago I posted Slashdot about the issue of Apple disabling tethering on iPhone 3.1 for any carrier that is not on Apples "Supported Carrier" list. This issue has raised a lot of debate on Apple support forums where Apple unfortunately censors a large share of the critical comments.
In Finland, the regulatory authority Ficora started to investigate if this practice conforms to the Finnish law that requires carriers to be able to unlock any locked phones sold in Finland (communications market law (393/2003) 70 §). Ficora requested official statement on the issue from TeliaSonera (the only iPhone reseller in Finland) which then requested comments from Apple.
Read the full letter from Apple to Ficora here.
Apple (Catherine A Novelli, VP of Worldwide Govenment Affairs) responded that "Apple has adopted a careful approach to the introduction of tetherting and has not introduced it as a generally available feature" because "some carriers worldwide do not allow tethering on their networks". Catherine explains to Ficora that "Following the introduction of iPhone OS 3.0 in June 2009, Apple became aware that some consumers were "hacking" their iPhones to enable tethering manually" and says that this lead to the decision to disable tethering in 3.1.
Ficora believed Apples explanation and decided that TeliaSonera is not breaking Finnish law. Thus they will not do anything about the issue.
I must say that I am very disappointed about Ficoras decision on not to do anything about this. Finnish law is fairly clear on this and IMO this decision would not hold up in courtroom. Also Apples talk about "hacking" was just a smokescreen - sending settings using iTunes to iPhone was a normal configuration operation - not "hacking".
The copy of Apples response has some phrases blacked out as Apple has marked them as trade secrets. The most interesting one is:
"Apple is therefore currently working on a software implementation whose goal is to extend the tethering service to all mobile carriers worldwide (regardless of whether the carriers are Supported Carriers or unsupported carriers), while allowing mobile carriers to "opt out" of this service if they have specific concerns about the tethering on their networks. If this software implementation can be developed it will permit the use of tethering on unlocked iPhones on any carrier in Finland, unless the carrier specifically opts out of the service. #### couple of lines blacked out ###"
This gives some hope that the issue will be corrected in future firmware updates.