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You are here: Home Blogs Licensing Petition to protect the right to unlock cellphones garners 111,000+ signers; White House must now respond

Petition to protect the right to unlock cellphones garners 111,000+ signers; White House must now respond

by Donald Robertson Contributions Published on Feb 28, 2013 10:27 AM
On February 13th, we asked you to join in with thousands of others to call on the White House to protect users where the Copyright Office had failed. Because of your actions, the White House now must respond to the call to fix the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions list in order to protect the right to unlock cell phones. But there is more we should do.

On February 13th, we asked you to join in with thousands of others to call on the White House to protect users where the Copyright Office had failed. As of today, more than 111,000 people have signed the petition to make cellphone unlocking legal again. Because of your actions, the White House must now respond to the call to fix the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) anti-circumvention exemptions list in order to protect the right to unlock cell phones.

While much of the DMCA is not bad, the anti-circumvention rules unethically restrict users from being free to use and modify their own devices. The list of exemptions from the anti-circumvention provisions is a safety valve on this onerous aspect of the law. When the Copyright Office (who is charged with maintaining the list of exemptions) chose to end the exemption for unlocking cellphones, they failed to safeguard your freedom.

We hope that the White House will realize the mistake that the Copyright Office made in ending the DMCA exemption for unlocking phones. But the issues with the DMCA exemptions list go beyond this. Under the current list, "jailbreaking" a phone in order to install your own operating system is exempt, but doing the same on a tablet is not. We had hoped that President Obama would address the broader question of who should have ultimate control over a device, the user who bought it or the corporation who sold it, during his 'Fireside Hangout'. Unfortunately, that question was never answered, but the White House must respond to the petition on unlocking cell phones, thanks to your efforts.

While we look forward to hearing the administration's forthcoming response, there is still more that we can do. Here is what you can do to help:

  • Join our Defective By Design campaign to end Digital Restrictions Management (DRM).
  • Sign our statement to Stop Restricted Boot to make sure your laptop and desktop computer don't get locked down like your phone.
  • Donate to the Free Software Foundation to support our efforts to fight bad laws like the DMCA.
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