Thursday, September 27, 2007

Strike two, Verizon

In addition to their flagrant incompetence, Verizon has also apparently been censoring their text messages:
According to the New York Times, Verizon Wireless has rejected Naral Pro-Choice America efforts to use Verizon's mobile text-message program to communicate to its membership.

Such text messaging is an important new tool for advocacy organizations seeking to educate and alert their members.

Verizon decision to block this new form of political speech interferes with its users' right to get information that they choose to receive.

Well, actually, they reversed course the moment Times published their story:
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."


In reversing course today, Verizon did not disclaim the power to block messages it deemed inappropriate.

Protect people from hate messages and pornography? Really. 'Cause earlier they said they wanted to protect people from controversy:
In initially turning down the program, Verizon, one of the nation's two largest wireless carriers, had told Naral that it does not accept programs from any group "that seeks to promote an agenda or distribute content that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of our users." Naral provided copies of its communications with Verizon to The New York Times.


On Wednesday, Mr. Nelson, the Verizon spokesman, said the initial decision had turned on the subject matter of the messages and not on Naral's position on abortion. "Our internal policy is in fact neutral on the position," Mr. Nelson said. "It is the topic itself" — abortion — "that has been on our list."

Uh-huh, sure. "We reject material on a controversial subject"? I've heard that before.

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