On January 26th of this year, the DMCA exemption that made unlocking your cell phone legal, expired, subsequently making the popular practice illegal. Now, folks who go about unlocking their handsets risk serious legal repercussions.
Obviously, people weren’t too happy with the way this played out, so an online petition was started to re-legalize unlocking. And as of today, that petition has surpassed 100,000 signatures, meaning the White House must issue a response…
For those who aren’t familiar with the White House’s online petition platform ‘We the People,’ essentially anyone can start a petition. But, it must gain a certain amount of signatures, in a certain amount of time, to be taken seriously.
The threshold for requiring a White House response to a petition used to be 25,000 names. But after several gag entreaties, like the one asking the government to build a Death Star by 2016, started to surpass that mark, it was raised to 100K.
As noted by The Next Web, just a few days ago, the cause looked like it was dead in the water. As of Tuesday, the petition needed nearly 20,000 signatures to reach its goal by this weekend. But a few big pushes helped it down the stretch.
“On Tuesday, the most popular Anonymous account on Twitter, YourAnonNews with over 900,000 followers, pointed out that there were only five days left to sign the petition. At that point, just under 20,000 signatures were needed. On Wednesday, a second push came from Reddit, at a point where there were just under 10,000 signatures needed.”
The petition calls for Obama’s administration to ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind the [DMCA exemption] decision on unlock, and failing that, to champion a bill (or some other form of legislation) that makes unlocking permanently legal.
While garnering a response from the White House doesn’t guarantee there will be action, it’s at least a step in the right direction. If nothing else, it will give the EFF (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) more ammunition to fight the good fight.