Unlocked-iPhone 4S

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.

100k unlock sigs

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.

  • RarestName

    They should at least allow unlocking after the phone contracts are over.

    • That is still legal but depends on your carriers decision to unlock it or not.

      • not necessarily, if you have a sprint iphone for example, you cancelled your contrate with the 4s or 5 for instance, or lets say any other “global” phone they have, even if you have paid them everything you owned them, they will not unlock your phone because you don’t have an active service with them, same with verizon, no active line no business or help.
        I work in a store where I do cellphone stuff, so this is just one example

      • Thats why I said it depends on your carrier.

    • And those of us on prepaid? We don’t have contracts, and even asking the carriers to unlock them will result in a “no” sometimes.

  • Tom

    I had to help spread the word on different cities

  • EpicFacepalm

    I’m trying to be optimist but this doesn’t seem like it’s going to work.

    • That’s not how being optimistic works. You’re doing it wrong. 🙂

      • EpicFacepalm

        I mean politicians won’t listen to the consumers.

  • Liam Mulcahy

    I want jailbreaking the iPad to be legel

  • I want this law to stop expiring.

  • Locking phones should be illegal in the first place.

    • Liam Mulcahy

      Good point

  • Jeffrey Gerber

    Why does no one know that the White House is the executive branch and the Library of Congress is the Legislative branch? Obama has no more power over the LOC than he does over John Boener.

    Also, the decision is made by an independent board, over which the Librarian of Congress has no power.

    In the end, the best you can hope for on this is Obama asking the House to look into this and they ask the Librarian to ask the independent Commitee to review it. All of thee would be favors. No one in this chain can force the Commitee to review it. Least of all The President, who legally cannot take action.

  • triggerfiend

    fuck it

  • If intelligent people argue for this it will pass, no doubt in my mind. Making unlocking illegal clearly limits consumer freedom in a country that strives on making that available.