When the White House first launched its petition website, the goal was to create a direct medium of communication between government and the people. Petitions made a lot of sense as it was a great way to gauge which issues are most important to people. The White House promised to respond to any petition that reached a certain threshold before a certain amount of time.
The original threshold was set at 30,000 signatures, but because it was so easy for pranksters to get the White House to respond to a request to build a death star, the threshold was tweaked to 100,000. That made it more difficult to get discussion on real issues going, but we understand the need.
That said, the one petition us phone lovers really care about — the one to make the unlocking of cell phones legal again — reached the 100,000 mark just before the cut-off date. The Librarian of Congress put into effect a rule that effectively banned the act of unlocking your phone without carrier consent. Most scoffed at the law and the idea that the government could scare citizens away using court fines and possible prosecution, but regardless of how you feel about the ridiculous nature of the enforcement or the law itself most would still rather it be done away with.
With this milestone reached, an official from the White House must respond to the request laid out in the original petition. That doesn’t necessarily mean the White House has to comply with the request, but we will at least get a nice, thoughtful response. And note that even if the White House officials agree with the movement, it’s not entirely up to them whether or not the law stays, goes, or is changed.
The best case scenario would be to see the new law rescinded by the Librarian of Congress at the request of the Obama administration. In other words, don’t get your hopes up just yet — just be happy that we’ll even be able to get a real, meaningful response at all. We’ll keep our eye out for the update from the White House in the weeks to come.