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Success! Petition to make unlocking phones legal meets goal

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Success! Petition to make unlocking phones legal meets goal
With a little over two days to spare, the voice of the people reaches its goal. We have been telling you about a petition started that would force the government to take a look at the law making unlocking carrier-locked phones illegal, and early this morning the petition reached the 100,000 signature mark, which means the White House must respond.

When we reminded you last night all about the petition (and shared the link in a few phone-related Google+ communities), it still needed just under 11,000 signatures to reach its goal, and now that goal has been met. This is especially impressive because this petition was one of the first to be launched after the White House raised the required number of signatures on a petition from 25,000 to 100,000 in an effort to avoid another petition like the one asking the government to build a Death Star.

Now that the petition has reached its goal, the White House is required to respond, although we don't know when exactly that will happen. This is the first step in the process, but now that we've gotten the attention of the government, it's time to push harder. That means contacting your local congressmen and senators, and urge them to change the law that makes unlocking a phone that you legally purchased from a carrier illegal. 

Thanks to everyone who signed, and shared the petition!

Story timeline

This story is part of: Cell phone unlocking law(6 updates)

58 Comments
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posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:03 20

1. pankajgupta (Posts: 59; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


Cheers to Freedom Movement..!! :)

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:52 1

44. jsdechavez (Posts: 708; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)


Petition succeeded in the signatures.
Now, to succeed in its goal..

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:04 19

2. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3024; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


I think we can do much better than 100,00!!

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 14:34 2

47. tusshharish (Posts: 342; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)


they should have taken internet pole ..................in that we may set the record of this

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:10 14

3. tedkord (Posts: 5298; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Hot damn. Don't stop pushing it - let's get as many as possible. It's time the carriers and OEMs learned that they don't own the equipment after we buy it. We also need to get the restrictions on tablets removed.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:38 9

10. 14545 (Posts: 1154; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


This is my problem. Unless they carriers are forced to give the equipment away for free, then I don't understand this logic of they "own" the software. They don't own anything. Not to mention, good luck going in and buying an unsubsidized device and getting them to unlock it. They owe you nothing at that point, so they won't do crap for you. It should be illegal to LOCK phones, and other electronic devices. If the carriers don't like it, let them stop selling subsidized devices.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:45 7

15. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


The law says they don't own the software, which is why it is legal to jailbreak/root your device. But, it seems that the theory is that most carrier-locked hardware is purchased on subsidy, so you don't technically own it until you finish paying off the subsidy. Of course, according to the law, you still can't unlock that device even after you finish the subsidy, which is absurd, and why we needed this petition.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:56 3

23. 14545 (Posts: 1154; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


Personally, I just wish for a speedy death to the subsidization model. I really see no benefit for it at this point. I mean honestly, if you can't afford a couple hundred for a used smartphone, then you probably don't even need one. As you more than likely can't pay the bill for it either.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 12:21 2

35. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4169; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


I could reasonably argue that you own the device once the subsidy is paid off or if you bought it off contract brand new at full retail price.

If you're still in contract and switch phones, then you don't own it technically because you haven't fulfilled your obligation of the contract.

This will only apply to GSM devices mostly since GSM is standard worldwide.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 12:51 3

37. JC557 (Posts: 1164; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)


You basically bought a phone but agreed to a contract as well but you still own the phone. You can either break the contract and pay a hefty ETF or ride out the contract which more than covers the price of the phone.

In some countries it's actually illegal to lock the phone. This I can agree with.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:20 3

4. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4169; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


I honestly think people are overreacting on this one.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:26 25

6. darkdroid (Posts: 44; Member since: 13 Sep 2012)


Mxyzptlk-trolling people since phonearena .

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:17 9

26. Aeires (unregistered)


Phonearena, filling Mxyptlk's need for attention on a regular basis.

If people didn't reply to his comments, he'd stop commenting.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:31 2

41. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4169; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Yet you responded? I'm not forcing you to read my comments.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:35 5

42. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


A BOT that is fed by Apple :)

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 19:14 1

51. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4169; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


I'm a terminator ;)

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 19:24 2

53. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5498; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


You are Trollinator. ;)

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:38

11. jsdechavez (Posts: 708; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)


Agree with Mxyptik. In many countries, people don't really bother as long as their subscribed to their favored networks. Why do you still need to have an unlocked one when you can get another phone probably for free in the other network if you really need to use the other network..?

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:47 14

16. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


The issue comes in 3 parts: 1) Americans hate being told that they can't do something with a product that they have paid for and own. 2) Americans like fighting for freedom, even if it's the freedom to take your old device to a new carrier. 3) If you can't unlock your device, you can't simply swap the SIM card when traveling, and are forced to use your carrier's absurdly expensive international plans.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:08 11

25. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5498; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


Part 4) What if you wat to sell or give away your phone for someone else who is on the different network.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:58

46. jsdechavez (Posts: 708; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)


We can do nothing about them Americans.. haha but on 2) yes, I think one has the right to switch carriers with an off-contract device provided the carrier has to agree to unlock phones on expired contracts; 3) That can be requested from the network before you travel. Weird but my network has cheaper rates for unlimited data when you're on roaming (outside your country).

posted on 22 Feb 2013, 11:28

58. Gdrye (Posts: 109; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


this comment is the only one that makes any sense, as an At&t employee, unlocking phones does happen when you finish the contract ont he device, or if you pay the full price for the device, i REALLY dont get the guys who buys an iphone for $199 and expect to get it unlocked, what about the $450 that the carrier paid for? The only bad thing about it is that we do run the serial number and if that phone was stolen, lost, or someone got the phone subsidized and never paid the bill, they wont unlock the device.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:50 6

18. greathero1 (Posts: 495; Member since: 13 Jun 2008)


Well, if I wanted a Samsung Galaxy Ace or a Huawai Ascend then you probably have a point but when that is not the case, why should it be against the law to unlock what I already have and have paid for outright or through satisfying the TOC of the contract?

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:07 4

24. MartyK (Posts: 726; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)


Why do you still need to have an unlocked one when you can get another phone probably for free in the other network if you really need to use the other network..?

A. No Network Carrier is going to give me a free or anyone else a free Galaxy Note-2 or any other top of the line phone.

In many countries, people don't really bother as long as their subscribed to their favored networks.

A. So if you buy a car or a refrigerator, can they tell you what type of gas to use or what type of foods to put in your items?, we do put a " Down payment" $200 and up on these phones and if we want them unlock, unlock them!.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:32 9

28. SuperNexus (Posts: 121; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)


People like you( i$heep or iFan) . Never understand freedom.

Because you are slave of Apple.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 12:19 3

34. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4169; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Apple doesn't have a gun pointed to my head forcing me to use their products.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:54 3

45. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)


mxyz what platform would you use if apple didnt exist? now i know thats a hard one for ya because a world without apple is unimaginable right? but seriously what platform would you use?

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 19:14 1

50. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4169; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Android or Windows Phone 8

posted on 22 Feb 2013, 10:32

57. iami67 (Posts: 318; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


Technically no they dont have a gun to your head your right but he is talking about how apple brainwashes its customers which is why they have no freedon which is just as hold a gun to your head threw brainwashing.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:22 6

5. aokde (Posts: 186; Member since: 09 Jul 2012)


why not make a petition to lower the votes needed for a petition :D?

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:33 2

7. RaKithAPeiRiZ (Posts: 1385; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


yo dwag ...we heard you like petitions ...so we decided to make a petition for your petition

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:52 1

21. vvelez5 (Posts: 623; Member since: 29 Jan 2011)


It used to be 25,000 I believe then they changed it because so many causes reached that limit easily.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:35

8. jsdechavez (Posts: 708; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)


I'm ok with locked phones. The network subsidizes the handset when you get one. You might even get your phone for free. It's fair business if they make sure the device is used on their network while still in contract. So subscribers, it's either you sign up for the contract or get a sim-only plan and an unlocked, unsubsidized phone. I think people would be more responsible and practical in spending once this becomes the norm. I mean, most people say in the US won't be spending $600-900 for an unlocked iPhone every time a new one comes out, right?

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:42 6

14. greathero1 (Posts: 495; Member since: 13 Jun 2008)


We all are okay with locked phones but the issue most of have is that after you have satisfied the terms of your contract it should not be illegal to take that phone elsewhere. Same if you pay an ETF because of poor service and take the phone elsewhere. Once the terms and obligations have been satisfied, the phone should be yours plain and simple.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:52 4

20. 14545 (Posts: 1154; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


I'm not ok with them. If I buy a phone off contract, either I have to pay more for an unlocked phone, or fight with the carrier to unlock my recently purchased off contract phone. There is no excuse that can reasonably be made for why carriers need to lock their devices.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:50 5

17. 14545 (Posts: 1154; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


A) that would be fine if I could buy a new phone off contract and take it to any carrier. But I can't, so given the fact that I can't do that, they need to unlock these phones even if I am still locked to specific carriers due to hardware limitations. B) As stated above, good luck buying a phone OFF CONTRACT and getting them to unlock it for you. If the carriers are afraid of losing money because of this, which they are not, then let them axe the subsidization model. Personally, I would rather buy my phones straight from the manufacturer, that way I have a say so in the future about how my phones are made. IE, SD cards and removable batteries. Next, it would lower the price of the hardware to begin with, you would see new devices having a 600 dollar MSRP, no, they would have 2-400 dollar MSRP's because that's what average people can afford. Therefore, if they still want to make money on new hardware. Then if the hardware makers want to still move equipment, they will have to lower prices so normal(not us tech geeks) people can justify buying a new phone every two years. Doing away with subsidization is a win-win for the consumer. It makes our voices(unlocked BL's and phones, etc) heard and give us the ability actually PICK the phones we want. We shouldn't have to worry about (_insert carrier of choice_) getting X phone. No, we can just go to best buy/Amazon/etc and buy the phone we want, for a decent price(think nexus like pricing) and here is the best part, IF I GET PISSED AT CARRIER X I CAN LEAVE. It's these lobbies from ATT,Verizon, Tmo, Sprint..... That keep us beholden to them. SCREW THE CARRIERS AND THEIR STUPID SUBSIDIZATION.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:50 1

43. jsdechavez (Posts: 708; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)


Agree. It you buy it off-contract it should be free. If you buy it on-contract it should be unlocked when the contract expires.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 12:54 1

38. JC557 (Posts: 1164; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)


It's a slippery slope, let the corporations get away with s**t now, let them get away with s**t forever.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:36 2

9. Diego! (Posts: 508; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)


Yes, we can! xD

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:42 2

12. aldridhl (Posts: 57; Member since: 12 Feb 2011)


Thanks everyone for speaking up!!

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:42 4

13. vvelez5 (Posts: 623; Member since: 29 Jan 2011)


Good news. But the White House does not make laws and though the White House does have to respond we might just get a "the law has been passed" kind of statement. Like the post said we need to contact our congressmen and senators to pressure them to enact legislation to change this silly law. Remember, signing your name on an internet petition is not enough. Go ahead and email your congressman and both of your senators.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:53 3

22. 14545 (Posts: 1154; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


I say just repeal DMCA. It's useless legislation anyway.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 12:28 1

36. BadAssAbe (Posts: 434; Member since: 22 Apr 2011)


If they say something like "the law has been passed" then the whole website is pointless.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 14:57 1

48. vvelez5 (Posts: 623; Member since: 29 Jan 2011)


Well duh, It's happened before. My favorite one was the petition signed for Texas to secede from the union and the White House responded with something along the lines of Texas cannot secede from the union. Remember this is a petition to the white house and all it does is that it will require a response from the white house if it reaches it's number of signatures. They don't have to agree with you. I'm just playing devil's advocate the white house could very well ask congress to repeal the law. But remember presidents cannot introduce bills into congress only a member of congress can. But of course a member of congress can submit the bill for the president.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 19:18 1

52. BadAssAbe (Posts: 434; Member since: 22 Apr 2011)


So makes one wonder how powerless 100,000 people really are

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 19:50 1

54. vvelez5 (Posts: 623; Member since: 29 Jan 2011)


Powerless? No. But 100,000 people signing their name on an internet document that required barely any work at all is close to powerless. Now let's say those 100,000 people each went to their state capitol and had a protest to this law. That would get congress and the media talking.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:51 2

19. legend1 (Posts: 104; Member since: 08 Oct 2012)


freedom at last

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:31 1

27. yowanvista (Posts: 318; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)


Why even buy carrier locked crap devices? Why not simply buy international versions without the locked bootloaders/bloatware like people from the rest of the world? I guess Americans feel sooo special with their nonsensical carriers.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:43 1

29. gwuhua1984 (Posts: 1237; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


Not everyone has the money to put down for a full priced phone. I've bought nothing but international phones all this time back since when AT&T was still Cingular, jumped on T-Mo right away because of Katherine Zeta Jones. Love the unlocked devices, but dishing out so much money right away is really tough on the wallet. If I did't mind the carrier branding on the phone, then I would get a phone from carriers, at least it's more like monthly payments.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:51 3

30. yowanvista (Posts: 318; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)


Yeah but you pay the hard price of not having long terms updates, you don't even fully own the device while on contract. That's the catch here.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 11:06 3

31. gwuhua1984 (Posts: 1237; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


Very true and that's one reason I still stick with unlocked phones, but for the people who doesn't have the money to put upfront won't even have a phone at all without subsidies. No phone, no point caring for updates.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 11:43 1

32. ximacloudx (Posts: 12; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)


What's frustrating is even if I have an unlocked phone, I still would pay the same price as someone who signed a contract. I'm essentially paying to cover other people's subsidies if I bring my own device. What's even more frustrating is when a new and amazing phone comes out (i.e. when the HTC One did), there's no way I can acquire it because the only carrier where I live is Verizon, and I can't used unlocked GSM phones on a CDMA network. Even if I had the money to buy it unlocked, I can't use it with my current plan.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 15:41

49. Droid773 (Posts: 27; Member since: 22 Dec 2012)


Im Tmobile user international version does not work on high speed data, Att does. before I had att yes I love international phones. Tmobile still refarming their network which will work with any unlocked phone.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 11:47

33. ximacloudx (Posts: 12; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)


Making a comment on everyone talking about people not being able to afford phones without subsidies, when the iPhone came to Virgin Mobile I had plenty of customers where I work spend the $600 to get it, because if you do the math ($55 a month over two years versus $100 for the least expensive contracted plan), you still save money a couple hundred dollars. If we can get consumers to think this way instead of looking at the price of phone and thinking its worth $200 instead of $600, then we can stop the hold the carriers have over everyone.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:07

39. speckledapple (Posts: 879; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


I joined that. Fun.

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:15 1

40. gallitoking (Posts: 4690; Member since: 17 May 2011)


here is the responnce from the white house:

"we can't help you at this moment as making the penny disappear is more important".

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 20:34

55. technut (Posts: 52; Member since: 03 Aug 2012)


Signed, fingers crossed!!

posted on 21 Feb 2013, 22:33

56. Reluctant_Human (Posts: 867; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


A bit unrelated but I like this petition system. I might start using it for other constructive reasons. Such as for docking senators pay whenever they don't vote on an issue or don't show up to avoid the issue. If i missed work as much as them I wouldn't have a job. Also, to put a restraining order from God so they stop using his name in their behave and in every political speech known to man.

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