When Oligopolists Interfere with Free Speech


NY Times: Verizon Reverses Itself on Abortion Rights Messages.

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.

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.

If this doesn't sound the alarm in a serious way, free speech in America is in clear and present danger. We communicate increasingly via digital networks of various kinds, and Verizon's position that it can decide what kinds of speech get through is beyond scary: It's downright dangerous.

Verizon is now claiming that its policy is designed to prevent unwanted messages -- when this was nothing of the sort. People had to sign up. The deception is transparent.

There are just a few major telecom carriers left. We cannot allow them to decide what we can talk about on these networks.


Verizon message censoring

Agreed. I bet their real concern, though, is some degree of liability for any involvement in what is essentially the third rail of American criminal law -- child porn.