Thursday, September 27, 2007

Verizon Decides What We Can Do With Our Phones (Updated!)

See Update Below!

Saying it had the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, Verizon Wireless has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program.

The other leading wireless carriers have accepted the program, which allows people to sign up for text messages from Naral by sending a message to a five-digit number known as a short code.
This is not spam. This is a person signing up for information they wish to receive through their phone, and Verizon claiming it doesn't want to let you receive that information through their service, because it objects to the message.
But legal experts said private companies like Verizon probably have the legal right to decide which messages to carry. The laws that forbid common carriers from interfering with voice transmissions on ordinary phone lines do not apply to text messages.

The dispute over the Naral messages is a skirmish in the larger battle over the question of “net neutrality” — whether carriers or Internet service providers should have a voice in the content they provide to customers.
Sorry, Mr. Artist, we don't like your art - we're not going to provide you electricity.
Nancy Keenan, Naral’s president, said Verizon’s decision interfered with political speech and activism.

“No company should be allowed to censor the message we want to send to people who have asked us to send it to them,” Ms. Keenan said. “Regardless of people’s political views, Verizon customers should decide what action to take on their phones. Why does Verizon get to make that choice for them?”
I wish I could call up Verizon and quit again. They should get SHREDDED over this in the media.

Not. Your. Choice.
Timothy Wu, a law professor at Columbia, said it was possible to find analogies to Verizon’s decision abroad. “Another entity that controls mass text messages is the Chinese government,” Professor Wu said.
Updated 10:30am: Verizon knows a catastrophic PR event when they see it coming. Eat Crow, Mutherfuckers.
“The decision to not allow text messaging on an important, though sensitive, public policy issue was incorrect, and we have fixed the process that led to this isolated incident,” Jeffrey Nelson, a company spokesman, said in a statement.

“It was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy,” Mr. Nelson said. “That policy, developed before text messaging protections such as spam filters adequately protected customers from unwanted messages, was designed to ward against communications such as anonymous hate messaging and adult materials sent to children.”
(my emphasis)

"We prevented people from receiving the information they requested on their phones in order to save children from receiving adult materials." Bullshit. It was opt-in, assholes.

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