‘Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal’ petition needs 38,000 votes, with 12 days left to go

by: Chris SmithFebruary 11, 2013


As of January 26, it’s no longer legal for individuals to carrier-unlock their cell phones (Android smartphones included) without the express permission of the mobile operator that sold the device for a subsidized price – if the handset is sold for full price, then the device is not locked to a certain network.

Since then, we explained what that unlocking vs rooting/jailbreaking means for you, legally speaking, and we pointed out a White House petition that has already been created urging the Obama administration to make changes to this new cell phone unlocking policy.

The petition, “Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal,” requires 100,000 votes by February 23 to go through and receive an official response from the White House. With 12 more days to go, the petition needs some 38,000 votes in order to reach the administration.

You can still vote by going to this site. Meanwhile, here’s the full text of the petition:

Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal.

The Librarian of Congress decided in October 2012 that unlocking of cell phones would be removed from the exceptions to the DMCA.

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.

Consumers will be forced to pay exorbitant roaming fees to make calls while traveling abroad. It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full.

The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked.

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.

Since we’re talking about petitions, we’ll tell you that the White House has recently responded in a rather serious manner to a more hilarious petition – “Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016” – explaining why such an endeavor won’t be pursued by the administration.

So we definitely expect a similarly serious response to an even more serious matter than the Death Star, cell phone unlocking. Of course, the petition won’t get an answer unless it reaches 100,000 votes, so in case you haven’t voted but feel strongly against the fact that you can’t legally unlock your cell phone by yourself, then you can still submit your vote in the next 12 days.

Are you voting?

  • MasterMuffin

    No, sorry :( If it wouldn’t require account making then yes, I’d help dem americans but no :(

  • vsdc

    I’m not an American, so I don’t really give much of a f*ck on this.

  • Reginald Spence II

    Sucks you’ve got to create an account, but I’m doing it anyway. Come on and help us out people!

  • BongCastaneda

    cmon americans wake up!

  • lazy1

    creating an account is the reason im not signing

  • I’m not American but I’m definitely gonna sign this petition. C’mon people!

  • wade

    This is BS. Chill out people. It’s not illegal. The library of congress doesn’t make laws. Here’s more info with sources referenced:


  • Kayserr Pardo

    Is your signature counted even if you’re not an American?
    I would love to help even if I’m not American and buy my phones at full price.

  • I unlocked my phone before the exemption expired since I had the phone only 79 days and AT&T wouldn’t unlock it. I was visiting my family in the UK. I unlocked my phone for $30, paid AT&T $20 in fees to put my account into suspension and paid another $25 for a local sim card in the UK. I used 2GB of data, 200 minutes, and 40 texts. If I was paying AT&T’s foreign roaming rate, my bill would have been over $40,000.

  • Cell Phone Signs

    The law specifically allows for the Library of Congress review. In effect, Congress has delegated the authority for making such legal/illegal decisions.

    There is a tradition of doing this in all sorts of areas (including warmaking powers), and it generally passes constitutional muster. Whether it should or not is a different question