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Petition Against Phone Unlocking Ban Will Get White House Response



An online petition to make unlocking cell phones legal once more received more than 100,000 signatures. That means the White House will have to respond to the petition.

The petition reached the 100,000 signature threshold a few days before it was due to end on February 23, so anyone interested in making phone unlocking legal again can still sign the online petition. The petition asks the White House to convince the Librarian of Congress, the public official who was given the power to make this decision, to reverse making it illegal to unlock cell phone while under a two-year contract.

The ban on unlocking cell phones went into effect on January 26. While the move didn’t impact many Americans, it most effects those who travel abroad. When traveling, users with an unlocked phone can insert a SIM card from a local carrier for less expensive phone plans.

iPhone unlocking details

iPhone unlocking is no longer completely legal.

Users with a locked phone currently have to pay their U.S. carrier extra for the privilege of using their phones overseas. International plans are much more expensive than national data plans. AT&T, for example, charges its users $30 per month for just 130MB of data while abroad. Verizon charges $25 per device for 100MB of data abroad.

There is still an option to buy an unlocked phone for travel. The cheapest unlocked option is the 8GB Nexus 4 which Google sells for $299. Apple also offers an unlocked iPhone 5 for $649.

Many users would prefer to use their own phone while traveling instead of buying a separate phone, however.

For some users that isn’t an issue as their phones are already unlocked. The Verizon iPhone 5, for example, is unlocked so users can insert any SIM into the device to make it work on another carrier.

There is no estimated timetable for a White House response, so even after the petition ends it could be a long time before the White House responds to the issue. There is also a chance the White House will choose not to ask the Librarian of Congress to reverse the decision.

Even if the White House does talk to the Librarian of Congress, there’s no guarantee the decision will change. There are certainly many people who oppose the current ban, but that doesn’t mean it will lift.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Roger J

    02/21/2013 at 10:08 am

    It’s ironic that the proponent of the free market enterprise has this legislation, I feel sorry for you Americans.

    My travel takes me to many developing countries where nearly all devices are sim-free, especially the second-hand and stolen ones.

    For nearly ten years now I have bought every few years in the UK, my home country, a sim-free unlocked device. I use PAYG here in the UK and abroad. When I travel I swop the sim-cards en route unless I am travelling to a country for the first time, in which case I get a local sim-card at the first opportunity.

    All I have to do is to leave enough credit and make a call every three months if I am not returning within that period.

    Sign that petition and set yourself free.

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