we the people

Petition to Prevent SIM Unlocking Illegal Reaches Its Target

February 21, 2013 - Written By Silviu MarchiÈ™

As you may know (especially if you live in the US) unlocking your phone in the States, in other ways than going to your provider has been deemed illegal since January 26th 2013, as stated by the October 2012 bill added to the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Any phone bought with a contract from then on is protected by the law while devices bought in the same way before the 26th of January is not affected. Another exception to the bill are CDMA phones, since the bill only covers GSM (Verizon and Sprint use CDMA wireless technology – CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access).

It wasn’t long until a petition was made on the Petitions page of the White House website (petitions.whitehouse.gov). In about a month the petition gathered some 101,554 signatures (at the time of writing), surpassing the 100,000 needed by 23rd of February for the petition to pass.

The main reason of the petition to overturn this bill is

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.

While the petition has passed, this doesn’t mean that the law will be rescinded. Having passed the threshold, the petition will be taken into attention by the Presidency Administration and if considered, some measures will be taken.

The petition asks the Presidency to request the Librarian of Congress (this being the same official that added the SIM unlocking to the DMCA back in October 2012) to revoke the law, and in case this fails, to make a bill enabling consumers to unlock their phone once again (In the US, the President has the power to do so).

The petition was not addressed as of yet, but a statement will probably be made public soon, since the bill and the petition got press attention.

So how does this bill affect people? Well if you want to unlock your phone, you can still call your operator and ask them to do it, and based on your contract’s standing and how new the phone in question is, you can unlock your phone for free if you have a legitimate reason (like anything besides wanting to terminate your contract or selling your device).