Phone locking petition off to White House

Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A petition asking the White House to legalize cellphone unlocking has enough signatures to go to the Obama administration for consideration, its backers say.

The petition calling for the government to "champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal" passed 100,000 signatures early Thursday, reported, meaning the White House is now obliged to respond.

In January the Library of Congress ruled that unlocking a mobile phone without the permission from the wireless carrier would be illegal, even when a customer's contract with the carrier has expired.

The made the ruling under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gave the Library of Congress power to regulate certain gadgets in the name of copyright law.

"I think [the petition is] terrific," Derek Khanna, a Yale academic who was previously a Republican Hill staffer working on copyright reform, told CNET. "I think it demonstrates that the American people care about free markets. They care about property rights. They don't appreciate laws that represent crony capitalism."

While the president cannot overrule the Library of Congress, he could champion new legislation to make unlocking legal again.

White House officials haven't yet made any statement about the petition.

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