The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should realize that wireless carriers continue to discriminate against text messaging, and that the Commission needs to act to remedy the situation, according to comments filed with the FCC by Public Knowledge and several others.
Despite the fact that Verizon has apologized for blocking uses of its network to NARAL Pro-Choice America, “the problem is not solved,” the signers of the comments argued. Others signing the comments with Public Knowledge were: Free Press, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Educause, Media Access Project, New America Foundation and U.S. PIRG. Also signing the filing were Credo Mobile and N.Y. Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky.
Even though FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is quoted as saying that Verizon's reversal ends the issue, “the problem is not solved, and the discrimination described in the Petition is ongoing: three months later, speech is still being restricted and innovation is still being stifled. And because any carrier can change its policies at any time, the threat of new harms remains. The public interest rationale for acting quickly to avert further harm is clear, and so we ask the Commission to declare that carriers may not engage in unjust and unreasonable discrimination in text messaging,” the comments said.
“Verizon still maintains that it is entitled to decide who its customers could speak to, and about what, and while it claims to have a new, less discriminatory short code policy, no policy, new or old, has been released to the public as of this filing,” the filing argued.
The comments framed the basic question: “We are at a crossroads with regards to new communications networks: will the flow of speech be controlled by the citizens who use those networks, or by the companies who run them?”
Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, said: “The hundreds of comments filed with the Commission show clearly that the censorship of text messaging has struck a nerve with the public. We urge the Commission to act to make certain that the rights of users large and small will be protected through this new, important medium of communications.”
The text of the comments is available at: http://www.publicknowledge.org/pdf/pk-etal-comments-20080314.pdf.
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