Petition Reaches White House to Make Phone Unlocking Legal Again

The petition of making phone unlocking legal has reached the White House with all 10,000 signatures mark. The deadline of the same was 23 Feb 2013, but the petition reached two days before the cut-off date, which means that the White House is now bound to issue an official response.

The petition was started by a San Francisco resident Sina Khanifar, who once faced a five-year prison sentence and a $500,000 fine for “circumventing protection measures of Motorola phones” while he was an undergraduate college student.

“I was 20 years old and terrified; my immediate reaction was to shut down the business,” Khanifar wrote on his blog. “The prospect of 5 years or more in prison was devastating.”

“For consumers, the consequences of this are fewer choices and increased restrictions to freedoms we currently take for granted. If you’re traveling abroad and want to use your current cellphone, you’ll need to pay exorbitant roaming charges. As an example, AT&T charges customers $1.50 per minute for calls and $19.50 per megabyte consumed while traveling in Europe. Compare that with the $0.30 per minute and $0.20 per megabyte that you’d be charged in the UK with a prepaid SIM card and an unlocked phone, and it amounts to extortion,” Khanifar said.

The core point behind this petition is to give freedom to consumers. As of now, most mobile companies offer the majority of their devices in locked forms, and keep the power in the hands of companies. As most users feel that unlocking phones will be beneficial for all, the petition received 101,588 signatures, along with opinions on what the government should do to better regulate carriers and manufacturers moving forward. Let’s see what turn it takes and what results it will bring.

About Isha Suri

Isha Suri is a staff writer for SiliconANGLE covering social news and security trends. If you have a story idea or news tip, send it to @SiliconAngle on Twitter.