Petition to Make Smartphone Unlocking Legal Inching Closer to 100,000 Votes

Unlocking Unlock iPhoneWhen it became illegal for users to unlock their newly purchased smartphones without explicit carrier permission in the United States, as of January 26th, it sparked a large controversy within the mobile space that is still strong one month later.

The ability to perform a software unlock on a mobile phone used to be legal in the United States, as an exemption to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). When that exemption expired, however, the U.S. Library of Congress Copyright Office opted not to renew it.

In response to this move, a petition was placed on the official White House website back in late January, calling for the Obama administration to make cell phone unlocking legal once and for all. The petition currently needs just over 10,000 additional signatures by February 23rd to reach the 100,000 votes threshold for an official response. 

“As of January 26, consumers will no longer be able unlock their phones for use on a different network without carrier permission, even after their contract has expired,” the petition reads. “We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal.”

The protest was started by Sina Khanifar, co-founder of OpenSignal and operator of cell phone unlocking website Cell-Unlock.com. Khanifar argues that, by making unlocking illegal, consumers will have less choice, pay higher roaming fees and have less resale value for their devices.

Most carriers will continue to provide the ability to unlock a cell phone per request, although there is sometimes a fee involved. Moreover, most mobile providers offer a select lineup of unlocked devices. Alternatively, you could purchase an unsubsidized smartphone at full price for it to be unlocked.

Do you think that unlocking should be illegal? As a gentle reminder, iFans prohibits political discussions within the forums. In consideration of this post, however, we are allowing moderate discussions that pertain to this subject. Please refrain from all general or off-topic political discussions.

[White House via MacRumors]

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