Some good news for the fight against tyrannical cell phone regulation. The official White House petition calling for the Librarian of Congress to rescind the decision to allow a DMCA exemption allowing entities other than the operators to SIM unlock phones ... take a deep breath -- that was a mouthful ... has eclipsed 100,000 signatures, meaning we'll likely see some sort of response from the Obama administration at some point.
That doesn't guarantee action. That doesn't mean it no longer will be illegal to SIM-unlock your phone on your own, without operator approval. And it still doesn't change the fact that it's not like there were goon squads going around, scooping up hordes of unruly unlockers. This is mainly a tool to be used in extreme cases of litigation. Chances are if you've finished paying off your subsidized handset, and your account is in good standing, your operator will give you the SIM unlock code.
But that doesn't mean that any of this is a good use of DMCA legislation. Thus, the petition. "If a petition gets enough support," the petitions.whitehouse.gov site reads, "White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response."
So maybe we'll see something change, and maybe we won't. But for sure, the position that operators shouldn't be the sole decider on SIM-unlocking phones will be heard.
Here's the full text of the petition presented to the White House:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
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.
Source: White House petitions
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