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.