Thursday, September 27, 2007

Freedom of Text?

Last week, Verizon prohibited NARAL, a pro-choice group, from sending text messages to its customers. Even though customers had signed up for the texts, Verizon refused to send them saying that they were too controversial.

However, news reports today are showing that Verizon has changed its tune. According to a New York Times article, Verizon spokesperson Jeffery Nelson said the decision to prevent the texts was “... an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy.” He also stated that he understands texting is an important part of our political process and has “great respect for this free flow of ideas."

In a press release, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said "Let's hope Verizon has learned a lesson today: citizen participation in democracy is neither 'unsavory' nor 'controversial. '" According to the NARAL website, more than 20,000 messages were generated to Verizon in response to their initial decision to ban the texts.

As our communications stray more and more from the typical phone calls and flyers, it's important groups can stay in touch with the people who request that information. I think that was a key point: these people had specifically asked for texts from NARAL. It wasn't a spam situation.

Meanwhile, the question is: do phone companies have the right to censor messages?

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