For Immediate Release
Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn said today that Sen. Byron Dorgan's (D-ND) call for hearings into the behavior of telephone companies “is long overdue.”
At a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee this morning, Dorgan said that the Internet should be kept free from censorship and gatekeepers, and asked for the Committee to hold hearings on incidents such as Verizon's blocking of NARAL Pro-Choice America from sending text messages to NARAL members.
“Senator Dorgan rightly recognizes that the telephone companies have almost unlimited discretion to determine what speech goes over their networks. Consumers don't recognize that their freedoms are more limited for text messaging or cellular calls than for regular telephone calls. The Committee should examine whether the increased power of telephone companies to act as censors and gatekeepers – power that was brought about by the Federal Communications Commission, is in the public interest, and whether new legislation is needed.”
Sohn also commended Dorgan and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) for asking FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to determine whether there are any limitations on the power of wireless carriers to block or otherwise discriminate against text messaging. That letter is here:
“We eagerly await the Commission's analysis whether it has the power to prevent such discriminatory behavior,” Sohn said. “Chairman Martin's answer may provide a roadmap to Congress' approach to the issue.”
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