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Petition to legalize smartphone unlocking hits 100,000 names

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.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. NickChapin

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-18-13

    Errata

    Paragraph three - last line: permanently *legal*

  1. MalcolmOwen

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 07-18-12

    Originally Posted by NickChapinView Post

    Paragraph three - last line: permanently *legal*



    Noted and updated. Thanks.

  1. nm3

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-02-11

    Communism?

    I guess we're turning communist and government controls everything! Can't believe people want government to force manufacturers to adopt a strategy. Amazing... Do a petition to stop doing petitions to get government to be bigger and more controlling.

  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: 05-13-01

    Pffft...

    The President can't do anything about it except ask Congress to pass a new law to change the ruling. And that's NOT going to happen, period. The President cannot overrule the the Library of Congress ruling. The President cannot force a change in the law.

    There have been several other petitions that the White House was required to 'respond' to that got more votes than this petition. The latest was the petition to deport CNN's Piers Morgan over his gun control comments. There was also a petition for the United states to build a Death Star.

    My response is... so what? This petition means less than nothing. It's a joke.

  1. Geoduck

    Junior Member

    Joined: 01-14-10

    Re: Communism?

    No, this is the PURPOSE of government. The only difference between organized crime and your average corporation is Government. The purpose of a corporation is to make money. If they can do it by making people happy and supplying good products they will. If they can do it by killing people, stealing, and selling defective and dangerous products they will. Corporations have NO morals. Business ethics means nothing. The only thing keeping corporations at bay is government regulations. That is WHY governments were invented, to keep the rapacious greedy ones at bay. Government made them stop selling lead paint. Government made them stop selling asbestos. Government made them stop selling slaves. It's not communism, it's civilization.

  1. AlenShapiro

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-24-00

    Re: Communism @nm3

    You've got it quite wrong/backwards nm3. This is not an attempt to get the government to do something to force manufacturers to adopt a strategy. It is an attempt to get the government to stop interfering with what people do with their own (purchased) equipment.

    As things stand now when I buy a phone with a contract, the cell company pays a subsidy to, say Apple, and imposes a condition that not only do I have to stay with them for 2 years (or pay a subsidy reimbursement fee) but I also may not use anyone else's cell sites to make my calls (even though I'll still be paying the original cell companies monthly charges). The really nasty thing is that if I do try to use my purchased cell phone with another cell company (by unlocking it) I can now be arrested and charged with a criminal offense.

    This last part (the nasty bit) is a positive sanction/action by the government. It is that action (action by the government, on behalf of a commercial interest) that the petition asks be reviewed and stopped.

    100,000+ people felt strongly enough about the issue to make their mark. How could you confuse such a democratic process about an issue to decrease government interference (futile though it may be) with a turn towards communism?

  1. nm3

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-02-11

    Re: Communism @AlenShapiro

    Alen, sorry, but I lived many years under communism. The problem with our country is that it is moving in that direction. With your reply, I'm sure you've never lived under communism. It always persuades the masses by "we're doing it for you, you need our protection from those big bad wolves (the rich, the corporations, the business deals, etc)". Each new law, they gain more power, each new restriction, they get more control, and as they grow, they need more of your money. Eventually, they revert to "since we're so good at protecting you from the big bad rich, corporations, etc, we're also going to protect you from yourself; we can spend your money better than you can".
    Think about it, all the politicians are rich and tightly wound around corporations and lobbyists. What we need is less "protection" -- if you travel to other countries, you realize that the regulations and controls prevent them from having the opportunities we have.
    Your statement about a democracy is screwed up, what's democratic about telling someone what to do? Why don't you just go and buy another phone? Or make your own phone and see if people want it. It's democratic to have more government control? Live in China for a year, live in Cuba, you'll regret it.

  1. nm3

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-02-11

    @GeoDuck

    GeoDuck, I see government's purpose to protect us from other threats, not to overreach. There are many examples of "protection" from government that has created more problems than it's solved. If you travel to many socialist countries, their government healthcare (in the name of protecting the people), hurts more people than it hurts. I don't want the government to protect me, I want them to get out of my way so I can become somebody. The regulations we have in many industries are ridiculous and hurt much more than they help (we're surrounded by examples of the inefficacy and inefficiencies of government).
    Live in China for a year (in that civilization), then write to me about communism and "government protection".

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    My Nexus phones are born UNLOCKED from the factory. No breaking any laws here! :-D

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    Re:communism

    You lived in China for a year and now you're an expert on communism? That's a big logical failure there. The fact is people are asking the government for less government here, which you don't seem to understand. They're asking to remove the law that makes it illegal for you to unlock your own phone. They're asking for their freedom back.

  1. Geoduck

    Junior Member

    Joined: 01-14-10

    NM3

    I live in Canada where I have government run and controlled healthcare. It is FAR superior than anything I could get when I lived in the US. In the US you can get any medical care you can afford. If you can't afford it then you die like a dog in the street.

  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: 05-13-01

    Originally Posted by GeoduckView Post

    I live in Canada where I have government run and controlled healthcare. It is FAR superior than anything I could get when I lived in the US. In the US you can get any medical care you can afford. If you can't afford it then you die like a dog in the street.



    Well that's the struggle isn't it, socialists like yourself expecting government to offer you cradle-to-grave care with someone else's money. Your are the collectivist mentality. Then there are the individualists who actually create the wealth you feel entitled to. They create the jobs, the capital, the economic structure so you can earn a living and buy healthcare insurance. But that's not enough for you socialists is it. No, your ideology demands the collective utopia where each receives according to their needs and each contributes according to their abilities. The CEO should not earn more money than the lowest paid employee, right?

    Eventually there will be a real class war just like 1917 Russia and the first to go will be the "useful idiots" who bought into the utopian socialist dream.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    And we have the wonderful situation where capitalist companies are perfectly free to lock devices into their own network even beyond the contract that serves to pay for these devices, and they are even free to spend a whole lot of the money thus earned to lobby politicians into codifying that corporate freedom into law, as has happened.

    That's democracy: the freedom for corporations to collude with the government against the people?

    And any alternative is, somehow, "socialism"?

    This commend thread is ripe with some of the most nonsensical political misconceptions... (Or course, no doubt someone will quote this and snark about mine being one of them.)

  1. shifuimam

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 08-15-06

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    And we have the wonderful situation where capitalist companies are perfectly free to lock devices into their own network even beyond the contract that serves to pay for these devices



    I'm about as anti-socialist as they come, and that doesn't stop me from being pissed off about this. It's asinine that it's illegal to unlock a phone after I have essentially paid off my debt for it via a two-year contract. I own the goddamn phone and should be allowed to do whatever the hell I want with it. Once my contract is up and the phone is paid for in full, it's absolutely unfair for the carrier to still dictate when I can do with it.

    It's like the textbook definition of monopolistic practice. It drives me mad that not only has it gone on as long as it has, but even in 2013 the government is making new legislation to reinforce it.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    I agree entirely.

    Bringing any kind of "socialism" into this is complete bullshit. It almost always is when Americans utter the word.

    Socialism, capitalism, cronyism, lobbyism, all vs. ****ING COMMON SENSE.

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    A six-digit fine for getting caught with an unlocked phone?!

    Looks like this whole "unlocking" battlefield is feeling like "downloading mp3s" all over again...

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