White House Will Respond to Petition to Re-legalize Unlocking Cellphones

Petitioners are also sounding off about the Pentagon’s decision to give medals to drone pilots.

Just under the wire, a We the People petition seeking to reverse a decision that made it illegal to “unlock” cellphones has crossed the barrier for a White House response.

Unlocking a cellphone allows it to be used on a wireless network other than the one that originally sold it.

The petition crossed the threshold for a White House response just two days before it would have expired. As of Jan. 16, We the People petitions must receive 100,000 signatures in one month to win an administration response. The unlocking petition is the fourth to cross the raised threshold. The previous threshold was 25,000 signatures.

The Library of Congress invalidated a copyright exemption that made it legal to unlock cellphones in October. The ban officially went into effect Jan. 25 for all phones carriers that would rather not let customers easily switch services.  

Just because the White House will respond to the unlocking petition is no guarantee it will force a change. The administration’s record for changing policy in a We the People petition response is either one, two or three out of roughly 110, depending on how you do the math.

In other We the People news, a petitioner from San Marcos, Texas, is protesting the award of distinguished warfare medals to military pilots operating drones by remote control. Nextgov Editor at Large Bob Brewin’s Wednesday story about this Pentagon decision is also generating a vigorous debate among our readers.