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Well, that was fast:

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

But the company reversed course this morning, saying it had made a mistake.

"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."

Mr. Nelson noted that text messaging is "harnessed by organizations and individuals communicating their diverse opinions about issues and topics" and said Verizon has "great respect for this free flow of ideas."

What's this all about?  Just another demonstration of the need for net neutrality:

"This is right at the heart of the problem," said Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at the University of Michigan law school, referring to the treatment of text messages. "The fact that wireless companies can choose to discriminate is very troubling."


"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?"

... 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.... Professor Wu pointed to a historical analogy. In the 19th century, he said, Western Union, the telegraph company, engaged in discrimination, based on the political views of people who sought to send telegrams. "One of the eventual reactions was the common carrier rule," Professor Wu said, which required telegraph and then phone companies to accept communications from all speakers on all topics.

What Verizon has chosen not to do, internet service providers shouldn't be able to do. Support Net Neutrality.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:08 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ma nishtana halaylah hazeh? (8+ / 0-)

    On all other days, you usually don't see any FP stories from me.  Today, you get two. :)

    •  LOL; reminds me of a Passover story. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cskendrick, JeffW

      Don't remember who said this originally, but here goes:

      Q: Why are we drinking four glasses of wine tonight?

      A: Why should this night be different from any other night?

      "Some men see things as they are and say 'Why?' I dream things that never were and say, 'I need to quit drinking!'" - Greasy Grant

      by Greasy Grant on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:09:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Example of Choosing Your Battles, wisely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Notice: This Comment © ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:04:07 AM PDT

    •  yep. Next generation network ! (0+ / 0-)

      I for one think, we should prepare for next generation technology. Preventing them from being controlled yet again by giant telcos.

      The next big step in tech are:

      1. broadband wireless (watch the recent auctions. Verizon is already suing the government saying the "open policy" is unconstitutional)
      1. highly integrated fat bandwith

      (one fiber optic pipe into your home.  It will be like cable TV, except it shove the entire internet at 1GB/sec. That's what happen in Hong-Kong and Japan)

      We are definitely too focus on current internet and current cell phone. Unfortunately there isn't much one can do about it. The players are entrenched and lobbyist all over. Watch how the big telcos are racing to lay down the rule for next generation piepe. The one that will come online 3-5 yrs from now.

      Time to prepare for next generation network. Current network won't change too much. But the next generation is to keep.  

      Japan has "all you can eat" fast wireless, while we are fighting for 760kbps DSL, which the japanese won't even give it to the homeless.

      Stop supporting ATT, Verizon and corrupt congress critters.

      Use Tor and PGP on the net. (google it)

      by fugue on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:28:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good for them (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annefrank, TerribleTom

    The whole FISA mess has me trusting all phone companies a lot less.  It's nice to know that they're not complete and total bastards.

    Just... mostly bastards.

  •  This Morning NPR Reported Young Voters... (7+ / 0-)

    ...who received text messages on election day reminding them to vote were much more likely to vote than were those who received no reminder message.

    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

    by Dana Houle on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:04:52 AM PDT

  •  the critisism was loud and swift, this time (5+ / 0-)

    but I'm sure the telecoms will find more insidious or quieter ways to filter speech.  
    They got busted big time and caught alot of flack very quickly.  Naral should thank the netroots for helping them out on this one being that they really blew some endorsements in the past, like Chaffee and Lieberman, I think.  

    but once again points to the urgent necessity of codifying net neutrality.

    "You may be on the right track, but if you sit still, you'll get run over" Will Rogers

    by gaspare on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:06:22 AM PDT

  •  can you hear me now, assholes? (4+ / 0-)

    you have to wonder if Verizon would have done the same thing if it had been a so-called "pro-life" wingnut group that wanted to send out text messages.  

    Given Verizon's eagerness to violate their customers' Constitutional rights on behalf of the Bush Administration in the FISA scandal, I doubt it.  

    The people who brought you the War on Terror are the same ones who brought you the War on Drugs.

    by Terminus on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:10:28 AM PDT

    •  They miscalculated, I think (0+ / 0-)

      by thinking it would run in the papers as an "abortion" story.  Instead, the NY front page ran it as a "net neutrality" story.  Proving, pretty much, why net neutrality was necessary.  Since profits go before politics, they backed right down.  Now we'll hear them saying -- "See!  You don't need net neutrality!  We'll do the right thing if our error is just pointed out to us [on the front page of the NY Times]!"  

  •  Just like in Myanmar (0+ / 0-)

    Gotta love it when big, faceless institutions have complete control over communications.  If you think such issues are not important, just ask the monks in Rangoon (where you need a special permit from the government to own a cell phone, and where virtually all content is monitored and sometimes blocked).

    "It can't happen here" - meh.

    •  Excellent news. As the "baby bells" (0+ / 0-)

      continue to reconsolidate, they become more and more dangerous monopolists. And in this "Post-Trinko" world, we can't count on SCOTUS to be of much help--and certainly not under antitrust law.

      Even with this latest backing off, I hate Verizon.

  •  We SO need a progressive carrier. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greasy Grant

    Conservative ones SO do not need our business.

    There is no Congress, there is only Zool.

    by cskendrick on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:16:09 AM PDT

    •  No, not for this. We need law and regulation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boadicea, ppluto, Abra Crabcakeya

      that has heavy penalties for censoring customer speech.

      The problem here is a weakening of public space and deregulation so that companies, most of which will never be "progressive" can abuse the public. Examples abound now. Look at the "Silver Spring" incident. There a private developer that took public funds to help renovate an older area decided the new street was private property and no photographs were allowed. No political activity either. Silver Spring got over the immediate issue, but the company apparently still "reserves the right" to perhaps deny citizen's rights on a street that looks like a public street, was partly funded by public funds and for all practical purposes is a public street.

      Now, as far as nice to have? Yeah, progressive companies are great. As far as necessary? A return to rule of law and the public space with all civil rights.

    •  Yes , but- (0+ / 0-)

      You're talking about a large company to be able to provide cell phone service at a competitive rate.
      Progresssive and capitalism seldom mix . Some companies have been led by democrats , little d there , but the people who worship money are the ones who generally start and run businesses and
      worship of money is generally inconsistent with all life on Earth.

      •  Ahem. (0+ / 0-)

        Please pardon the shameless commercial plug...

        (...and I totally agree with you, pelagicray...)

        •  Will Easton (0+ / 0-)

          We don't ever mind hearing about a better option to what is. But I'm not pelagic - damn near sessile.

        •  WA, Good bunch. Options are great. (0+ / 0-)

          Abra Crabcakeya is correct and that is why a "floor"--at least a basement--of business behavior by regulation is necessary and enforcement of the regulations vital.

          What we have seen from this administration is a gutting of regulation and lack of enforcement of those they cannot gut. It is an administration characterized by gross incompetence, but in this area incompetence definitely seems to be assisting malice.

          Anyone ever hear "rule of law" anymore from these people? If I do I'll bust a gut with cynical, snarling laughter because it is apparently rule of cronies at best.

          Strong on defense? Crap! Pre-9/11 failures aside, defense of the citizens is more general than the usual bucket of "national defense."

          It involves defense against snake-oil health products on the market ruining health. Where were they on that? Dead drunk asleep?

          It involves natural disaster preparedness, including not encouraging people to build and live in hazard areas. Where on that? We know from Katrina. Reasonable change to help people relocate from the most hazardous areas? Not if a buck can be made or a vote obtained.

          The list goes on and on--complete, utter abdication of defense of the average citizen. One of the first things Democrats need to do if 2008 works out as we hope is rebuild those defenses that allow Joe Citizen to live in reasonable security.

  •  Once again, I implore Kossacks to consider... (4+ / 2-)
    Recommended by:
    Inland, MBNYC, TomP, Abra Crabcakeya
    Hidden by:
    Caldonia, KnowVox

    the ramifications of the Clinton-Murdoch merger and Clinton aides' alliance with Murdoch.

    Another Centrist Clinton prez will cultivate more Centrists and Blue Dogs who often vote with Republicans.

    by annefrank on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:17:11 AM PDT

    •  Uprated, not off topic. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm really wondering if it's in the best interest of the distinct minority on this site to start setting a standard of troll rating on content.  Somebody must think the primaries are going to be over REALLY SOON.  

      Read Obama's 2002 speech against invading Iraq.

      by Inland on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 09:08:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and once again - I'm TR'd for posting facts (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, Abra Crabcakeya

      Another Centrist Clinton prez will cultivate more Centrists and Blue Dogs who often vote with Republicans.

      by annefrank on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 09:08:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What about Russert's raising JRE's $800k from Rup (0+ / 0-)

      Until you find some evidence of a Hillary-Rupert merger I'm not surprised you continue to feel "lonely." Even your link says it's all speculation. Media Matters debunks:

      in a July 20 entry to his blog, Politico senior political writer Ben Smith linked to a statement in which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) urged her presidential campaign supporters to petition Fox News host Bill O'Reilly to "stop smearing grassroots progressives" in light of his recent persistent comparisons of the blog Daily Kos to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Smith added: "Hillary seems to be breaching what had been an unspoken non-aggression (or, rather, less-aggression) pact between the Clintons and O'Reilly employer (and Glover Park Group client) News Corp." In fact, Media Matters for America has documented many recent examples of News Corp. media outlets and their employees -- including the New York Post and Weekly Standard -- and Fox News personalities, including O'Reilly, making false, misleading, or outrageous claims about Hillary Clinton.

      MM goes on to provide examples. What's the damning information? the facts , escape me.

      Still uncommitted, undecided...enjoying the dates; not ready for the ring or uhaul.

      by kck on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 09:11:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Post (0+ / 0-)

    Version does not have the right to block any group from setting up a messaging network to its subscribers


    should have the right to cancel that network if can be proven that the privalege is being abused by sending unsolicited text messages to pro-life group members just to piss them off.

    If you see me behind you..don't assume I'm following you. We just happen to be going the same way and if you slow down, I'll run over your ass.

    by TKH on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:28:26 AM PDT

  •  Great...I really did not want to switch (0+ / 0-)

    providers. I am really happy with Verizon's network...they really are far and above the rest. I am not happy about their plans or bullshit like this, or how they cripple phones, but I stick with them over the superb service.

    "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

    by michael1104 on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:33:36 AM PDT

  •  Well, good. Now, I'll wait until my contract (0+ / 0-)

    is up before switching to Working Assets....

    "Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery." ---Jack Paar

    by bic momma on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 08:38:55 AM PDT

  •  SPAM Filtering & Free Speech (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One of the important points raised in the article that hasn't been discussed here is the valid point that Verizon needs to filter for SPAM messages.  I work in technology, and I know that most mail servers receive 80-90% SPAM and only 10-20% of the traffic is valid.  That's costly enough, but when you have to pay for each text message you receive, or at least when those text messages count against a balance, receiving unwanted text messages can become a big problem in a hurry.

    However, SPAM filtering should not be used as an excuse to block legitimate messages that contain content that someone at Verizon deems unacceptable.  There is a fine line to be walked here, and I'm not sure if we have the laws on the books to enforce or even define what that line is.  I remember using WebSense software back in the day when it blocked out sites such as Planned Parenthood and NOW, supposedly because they contained "objectionable" content.  I thought that was ridiculous, and now it looks like Verizon is getting on that bandwagon as well.

    I think that some of this could be solved with a law that defines what is acceptable for SPAM filtering and protection of minors (see lawsuits / etc against mySpace and Facebook for the ramifications of not doing enough on this front) while prohibiting tampering into the process, and allowing for a mechanism to modify blacklists / whitelists and content filters to ensure that valid messages get through.

  •  Fie! (0+ / 0-)

    On folks who insist that we can't vote with our wallets. It works so often that it should be used much more often.

  •  Phew. My contract isn't up for a year. nt (0+ / 0-)

    Read Obama's 2002 speech against invading Iraq.

    by Inland on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 09:06:04 AM PDT

  •  I'm missing something here (0+ / 0-)

    Why would NARAL have to get permission from Verizon before sending out text messages?

  •  imo (0+ / 0-)

    The reason Verizon reversed so quickly is because they realized their decision would awaken millions to the whole issue of net neutrality.

  •  From a PR standpoint (0+ / 0-)

    Verizon loses any way you slice it.  The left is wary of Verizon for even making this a story to begin with and now the right is probably unbelievably pissed that Verizon did an about face and is now condoning the murder of babies (note: that was sarcasm).  As someone mentioned in one of the comments, it's a classic case of picking your battles - something I have to advise my clients of every single day.  Verizon didn't, and as such they come out looking like assholes all the way around (but at least they reversed their position).

  •  Limbaugh might argue that "phony" meant pretend (0+ / 0-)

    ing to be a soldier and not really a soldier. It's dumb, but most of the dittohead Limbiciles will fall for that. The only clear rebuttal is to say, he couldn't know (nor is it credibly likely) that callers claiming to be soldiers were all or mostly phony, and so must have impugned real ones regardless of what he claims to have meant.

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