updated 04:11 pm EST, Thu February 21, 2013
White House to respond to petition in near future
A petition demanding the legalization of phone unlocking has reached its threshold for a response from the White House. The 100,000-signature goal on We The People has been met with two days left to run, forcing the Obama administration to address the issue of unlocking being removed from the exceptions to the DMCA.
The Library of Congress made the decision in October 2012 to make it illegal for users to unlock phones themselves, forcing users to ask and potentially pay carriers for the privilege from January 26th. Potential penalties for those caught unlocking range between a $200 fine and the combination of a $500,000 fine and five years of imprisonment for each instance of unlocking.
The petition notes that the resale value of locked handsets decreases compared to unlocked handsets, and points out that even though carriers are offering more phones to customers already unlocked, "the great majority of phones sold are still locked." The White House is asked by the petition to "ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."
Though there is no specified deadline for a response, We The People states that the White House will respond to petitions crossing the signature threshold "in a timely fashion," but this can be affected by the volume of petitions and the subject matter of the petition.