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Petition to Make Unlocking Phones Legal Again Crosses 100,000 Signature Mark, White House Must Respond

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As of January 26, it is illegal to take a carrier-tied smartphone, unlock it without their permission, and then use it on another carrier. The Librarian of Congress decided that you have plenty of options and shouldn’t take advantage of carrier subsidies in order to pick and choose a carrier or phone of choice (so much for American freedom). Sure, you can request an unlock from the carrier going forward, but who is to say that they would be willing to approve such a request. 

The move caused quite the stir in the mobile community, prompting the creation of a petition through the White House’s official petition site. We pointed it out back in January, and are pleased today to announce that the petition has eclipsed the 100,000 signature mark that it needed in order to get the President’s attention. According to the White House site, if a petition reaches the 100K milestone, they are required to at least respond to it. This doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to get immediate or favorable action from Obama’s office, but hey, we’ll take any press we can get on this unfortunate situation.

It is our understanding that Obama can’t simply overturn this ruling anyway, but could have some say in getting Congress to rewrite the law. No matter what, we are due a response. This is at least a step, even if small, in the right direction.

More:  Unlocking Petition | CNET

  • Since the White House has an easy opt-out clause for We The People petitions that refer directly to the actions of certain agencies, they can satisfy their requirement to respond by essentially saying “No comment.” Check out the We The People Terms of Participation and you’ll see it. The administration has exercised this clause on a few occasions, as seen in the petition responses titled “Why we can’t comment on…” on the website.

  • Oscar De La Rosa

    Libertarian all the way

  • sk3litor

    Oh Jesus here we go…..

  • summit1986

    “It is our understanding that Obama can’t simply overturn this ruling anyway…” They said the same thing about the Bill of Rights, and he’s sure trying his hardest to overturn that.

  • Scott Martin

    “According to the White House site, if a petition reaches the 100K milestone, they are required to at least respond to it.”

    all they’re required to do is be all “hey, we looked at this but don’t much care, carry on.”
    these white house petitions are a joke, they don’t amount to anything and are just there to appease the people who enjoy complaining.

  • Skittleoid

    Obama <3

  • antinorm

    Getting Congress to rewrite the DMCA? Good luck with that. They only listen to you if you have really deep pockets.

    • Like Jacques Cousteau deep. DEEP.

  • Not to get into a political debate because we all know it just turns into a flame-war down the road (am an Independent, I don’t side with either party because both sides are dip-shit stupid anyway).

    Ok, that out of the way, this petition won’t do jack *beep*. I bet you why Obama raised the petition requirement to 100k instead of 25k is because he doesn’t want to have to respond to every damn thing people come up with. I’ve personally never supported him, and most of the Republican candidates anyway wouldn’t have fixed things. But I will admit, most of us Americans in the south who don’t agree with him get a LOT of flak from this current government, but that’s another story entirely…

    Back on subject, it is true there are plenty of choices on other carriers, but sometimes, they don’t have that one special device you really want that another carrier has. Of course, if you REALLY want that phone, best way is to go ahead and buy it out-right since chances are, it’ll already be unlocked for you if its coming from the manufacturer themselves. Of course, you could always just get a Nexus I suppose (assuming one could order one to begin with), or the iPhone 5. Otherwise, I wouldn’t count on the Library of Congress to reverse their decision anytime soon.

  • Mark

    Jokes on congress my phone is already unlocked, if you don’t like it I live in PA. come find me. When they can fix the economy and stop being babies and screwing with americans money and future I will think about relocking it. Seeing as how they wanna do what they want I’ll do what i want with MY phone. And if congress or the whitehouse or the senators don’t like my attitude, you can come talk to me.

    • ArrowCool

      You are thinking of the wrong “unlock”.

  • capt. obvious

    i don’t believe that there is a need for ANY law to tell me what i can or cannot do with my belongings. As long as my commitments in which i attained the device are fulfilled. I also feel that once your contract is fulfilled, you should be sent the unlock code for YOUR device in the last bill for that cycle.

    • John Davids

      You shouldn’t even need to fulfill your contract. Thats why ETF policies exist. You get a subsidized phone and jump ship on day 2, you are going to be paying a hefty ETF to pay for that subsidy (and then some). My belongings are my belongings, period.

  • NelsonBig

    “It is our understanding that Obama can’t simply overturn this ruling anyway…”

    Start illegal wars without congress and kill US Citizens without due process? Sure thing!
    Tell phone providers not to exploit American Citizens? Nope.

    • Zilveari

      “Start illegal wars without congress” Wait wait… so you just removed bush’s name and put in Obama’s? Because your psychotic conservative regime is the one that started a unilateral war in Iraq, before Congress finished debating it.

  • jzwerlz43

    this might be a dumb question but this doesnt apply to unlocking a phone for the purposes of flashing a custom rom does it?

    • Alex Farra

      No only sim unlocking

      • jzwerlz43

        thanks! was just making sure cause im planning on flashing a rom to my gs3 over spring break

        • Alex Farra

          Enjoy entering the world of custom ROMs!

          • jzwerlz43

            will do! itl be my first time flashing a rom lol im having my friend walk me threw it cause knowing me il screw something up the first time

    • FuzzyOnion

      There are no stupid questions, only stupid people who refuse to ask them 🙂

    • antinorm

      This applies to unlocking a phone that is tied to one carrier, so that you can use it on any carrier. It doesn’t apply to unlocking your bootloader.

  • etg9

    Yeah! time to hear how being locked into a carrier even after your contract ends is in our best interest!!

    Please someone who reads things and is in politics, this is silly. If you buy something and fulfill the contract then it should be yours to use as you see fit.

  • Actually, reaching 100,000 signatures means that they COULD respond. Doesn’t mean they will.

    • John

      Exactly. They could give a shi t less about this topic.

    • their own FAQ says they must respond: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/how-why/terms-participation

      AS OF JANUARY 15, 2013:

      To cross the first threshold and be searchable within WhiteHouse.gov, a petition must reach 150 signatures within 30 days.

      To cross the second threshold and require a response, a petition must reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days.

    • Check out the fine print:
      “The White House plans to respond to each petition that crosses the signature threshold, which you can view on the Terms of Participation page. In a few rare cases (such as specific procurement, law enforcement, or adjudicatory matters), the White House response might not address the facts of a particular matter to avoid exercising improper influence. In addition, the White House will not respond to petitions that violate We the People’s Terms of Participation. In some cases, a single response may be used for similar petitions.”
      It would be pretty silly of them not to respond to this.

  • Nexus_FrEak

    Obama’s all for giving away other people’s things… This’ll be a walk in the park 😉

    • pissed

      tHIs nihgga racist!! probably whit boi too!!

      • Nexus_FrEak

        Meant no disrespect! All in good fun!

      • CRH45

        It’s really getting old just because somebody doesn’t like obummer, they must be racist. When did disagreeing with someone make you a racist? Anybody that supports him and his ways HAVE to be getting something free because if you work hard every day to support you/your family you CAN’T agree with him. F him and all his followers.

        • 47%

          not much of a political debater myself, but your extreme stance sounds just as ignorant as those you’re trying to criticize.

          “It’s really getting old just because somebody [] like[s] obummer, they must be [poor & lazy]”


          • CRH45

            Yep, I can see who you voted for. I’m sorry I like my country and I don’t want to see it go any farther down toilet than it has already,but it doesn’t look like i’m going to get my wish with 4 more years with that clown in charge. Nothing to see here folks.

          • Butters619

            I’m sorry which way down the toilet was the country going in 2008? And which way has it gone since then?

          • Alex Farra

            It has just gone further down since then.

          • Zilveari

            Really? With unemployment going down EVERY MONTH, the stock market rapidly growing, and a large budget surplus last month?

          • Cory Lay


          • oTa_dem

            You’re just trolling right? That statement cannot be serious!

          • billy routh

            Lets see since obummer took over record unemployment, record poverty, record gas prices, record food prices. Heck he cant even produce a real birth certificate. He is nothing more than a fraud whom is in bed with the muslim brotherhood

          • Butters619

            Seriously the birth certificate? You just demonstrated your ignorance.

          • CRH45

            You and all the obummer supporters are the only ones demonstrating ignorance.

          • Butters619

            He is your president. And he is the president of the United States of America. Regardless of how you feel about him, he has received the most disrespect of any recent commander in chief.

          • CRH45

            He’s not my president and he will never be.He sure isn’t acting like a president of the USA. That man has spent more money in four years than all the other presidents combined. Record gas prices,record food prices, record everything prices and everything is going up and up and up. I don’t see how you can sit there and say he is doing a good job.

          • Butters619

            You do realize that financial analysts and economists from both sides actually urge the white house to spend more money and not make the cuts he proposed right? Many actually thought his stimulus package wasn’t big enough. I’m not talking about politicians, who jump back and forth on their opinions and comments based on which ever suits their needs at the time, but actual financial analysts and economists.

            Also average gas price in the united state is $3.78/gallon currently. In 2008 it hit $4.12/gallon. So what were you saying about records?

            Also, it’s funny that you complain the government spends too much, but when the government does something like end food subsides you complain about the results.

            The housing market was in a downward spiral in 2008. The job market was shedding jobs at it’s fastest rate since the Great Depression. Things were bad and getting worse. Yeah we haven’t gotten back to the same levels we were in 2004 (during a democratic president mind you), but we have at least stopped the bleeding.

            And you do also realize that our debt to GDP ratio is not the highest it has ever been either.

            So please stop regurgitating the same propaganda.

          • Zilveari

            Hey, let me give you a tip. Prices go up. It’s called inflation. Remember when a new car cost $1500? how many republicans and democrats have sat in the big seat since then? It has nothing to do with Obama. And btw, he has spent far less money in 4 years than Bush did in 2. Not to mention that Obama is on his way to getting us back to solvency with last month’s budget surplus(as long as the republicans will stop being little babies in congress).

          • Zilveari

            Let’s see. he has already fixed the economy that Bush destroyed. He has turned most of the “war” in Afghanistan over to the locals. he passed a healthcare bill, that while not perfect, is much better than nothing. He dealt a deathblow to the tea party, and the neo-cons. I think he is doing great.

          • Cory Lay

            You are not living in reality.

          • Scott Martin

            all i ask is that someone passes a budget. “the numbers don’t add up” so you just don’t look at them i suppose.

          • michael arazan

            Me Too, I’m sorry GW borrowed 11 trillion dollars creating the deficit when we just got back into the black with 200 billion surplus the day GW took office.

          • Zilveari

            Yes, everything that went down was Bush’s fault. And it’s all on it’s way back up right now. Close, at, or above 08 levels.

          • Cory Lay

            We survived Bush. You will survive Obama.

        • Butters619

          Lol. You started by saying you are tired of overgeneralizations and then you overgeneralize. Good work.

        • Zilveari

          You sound like a rich douchebag with a low IQ to me. The perfect person to vote for a rich douchebag like Romney. Making an ignorant generalization saying that everyone who voted for Obama is getting something free? I rent my apartment. I pay all of my bills. I work 40-60 hours per week to afford that, and everything that I own.

          Get off of your soapbox, come down to earth, and READ once in awhile. you may learn just how batshit crazy your party it.

        • Cory Lay

          You are a low IQ idiot. Shouldn’t you be on the Apple fan site?

      • Adamania

        You know what’s funny is that this person is probably a white guy just pretending to be black.

        • Suralin

          What’s funny is that you all just got trolled.

      • shooter50

        no ebonics allowed!!!

      • Butters619

        I’m guessing the person who wrote this is white and trying to do a stereotypical black person.

    • DiegoKokomo

      Curious to see the political affiliation breakdown of droid-life readers. Conservatives out to an early lead!

      • EvanTheGamer

        Republican all the way!

        • Brent Cooper

          American all the way!

          • EvanTheGamer

            Blame Canada all the way!

          • Unaffiliated all the way. And blame Canada.

        • Obama’s a joke.

          • michael arazan

            And Bush was the punchline

          • Justin

            At least Bush was Pro Gun (and rights)….. Obama is a douche socialist, (borderline communist) who does not give a single Fu** about our rights as Americans. You can NOT deny that one. But….Shit, Yea, blame Canada * cough cough. They don’t know how to drive… Lulz

          • EvanTheGamer

            Agreed. As an American we are entitled to our opinions and anyone who doesn’t like it can deal with it.

          • Zilveari

            Yet another ignorant conservative who doesn’t actually take the time to learn about the issues involved. You don’t even know what socialism, nor what communism and marxism are. Instead of attacking Obama for somethign he isn’t, why not trying to make a REAL POINT about who in your ignorant, war-mongering, 99% hating, racist party would be better than Obama. Your last four(?) candidates/presidents were absolutely horrible.

          • zurginator

            To be fair, you just did the exact same thing you told him not to do.

            Also the last few canidates/presidents from both parties have sucked.

          • Justin

            Apparently the mods did not like my last comment…

            “System of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control; also, the political movements aimed at putting that system into practice.”

            You, sir, are a typical ignorant liberal, whom does not know the definition of Socialism… If you can not see that the sentence describes what Obama is doing, then you are blindly following… Let me guess, Mom and Dad, (or maybe Dad and Dad) raised you to be a democrat? Taught you how to hate everyone that opposes you and your beliefs?

            War-mongering??? Who was the president to put MORE troops over seas, and now is hording weapons here at home for God knows what reason!? (give you a hint, his name starts with an “O”).

            And racist? Really? LOL, Okay bud, what ever you say… Just because the first black president happens to suck a**, does not make everyone who opposes him racist. Although, I am not very fond of you, are you black by chance?

            trust me, i know plenty about the “issues involved”. Get educated yourself, then come back to the table….

          • Cory Lay

            Define socialist.

          • Justin

            *See my last comment to “Zilveari”

          • Cory Lay

            You’re a joke.

      • sk3litor

        If you’re Republican before the age of 30 you have no heart. If you’re Democrat after 30 you have no brain. J/k to each his own. But I think if you buy a subsidised phone you should have to stick with that carrier. They don’t offer you a phone at less than half price to take it and run. (If I’m correctly understanding the situation)

        • Justin

          Well, the first part ill agree with, lol. But As for the phone situation, i can see that, but only if you dip out of your contract early. If you stay in your contract, the company is making hand over fist on you… Verizon for example is making so much off you after the first couple months, it really doesn’t matter what they give you the phone for. Where they lose money is the roaming charges, and people that disgustingly abuse data, (i may or may not qualify for this category). At any rate, after contract is up, i feel that we should be able to actually “OWN” our phones, and do what we please with them.

    • Sirx

      As a liberal-ish person who voted for Obama in both elections, I gotta admit that this was funny. Lol, good sir.

    • jovi

      you’re a joke.