On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal
in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov
to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. "It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked." The 30 days time limit on the petition is almost up, and it's about 11,000 signatures shy of the amount necessary to ensure a response from the Obama administration (100,000 total, recently increased from 25,000
). The creator of the petition received a Cease & Desist letter from Motorola
in 2005 for selling software that would allow users to unlock their phones, and he thinks it's only a matter of time before such legal threats begin again. This is part of a larger battle to protect the way consumers can use their devices. While it's still legal for people to root their phones
, the Librarian of Congress failed to expand that legal protection to tablets
, even though the devices are incredibly similar. The Librarian's decision
(PDF) needs further review, and if the White House petition doesn't get enough signatures by February 23, such a review may not happen.