A White House web petition to lift the phone unlocking ban has received more than 110,000 signatures. The threshold for “We the People” petitions is 100,000 and now the White House will have to review or at least reply to the petition, before it throws it out.
The silly ban was imposed in January and under the new law anyone who dares unlock their own phone in the Land of the Fee could face up to 5 years in jail and a $500,000 fine. Forbes described the new legislation as a “clear example” of copyright law gone crazy. The underlying law is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), but applying the law to cellphone unlocking is a stretch to say the least.
Basically the ban is viewed as an example of crony capitalism, nothing new in post-Citizens United America. The ban allows companies to control how their gear is used after it’s sold, which clearly violates property rights. Phone companies might try to claim that they are in fact renting their phones on two-year plans, but they’re not, at least not at the moment.
It is a bit like a car company telling its customers that they can’t install new alloys. What’s more, buying a modular assault rifle is still legal in the US, and the accessory market is booming.
In most states it is possible to install everything from a bayonet to a high powered scope and high capacity magazine on virtually any rifle. It’s perfectly legal, yet unlocking a phone can land someone in court, facing some serious jail time.