UPDATE 02/21/13: The petition stormed past 100,000 signatures yesterday! I shall imagine that my timely blog post was what helped propel it over the finish line. (Naw, it’s probably better for my ego if I don’t.) Now we’ll see whether the White House responds meaningfully or if the petition will join the ash heap of political talking points.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to sign this petition on the White House website. Unlike most useless Internet petitions, these petitions actually at least elicit a response from the White House if they reach the arbitrary threshold, which was recently raised to 100,000 signatures. The petition to Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal has 85,000 and needs 15,000 more by Saturday.
Reaching the threshold may not actually change anything, but even for a White House petition the odds are greater than normal. The regulation that recently and arbitrarily made it illegal to unlock cell phones came from the executive branch (The Librarian of Congress, specifically) and could theoretically be reversed. Based on my understanding of the subject, there was no good reason to change this regulation, and reverting it back would provide a better and freer market for consumers.
Derek Khanna, who has been helping to lead the charge on this, argues that “The Law Against Unlocking Cellphones Is Anti-Consumer, Anti-Business, and Anti-Common Sense.” Khanna is the same young conservative activist who was fired from his Republican staffer position after he rocked too many boats with his memo about common-sense copyright reform. I love how Khanna is directly trying to influence politics for the better by pursuing tangible and achievable policy changes – first with his copyright memo and now with his support for this petition.