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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Verizon trying to silence pro-choice voices

Update: Verizon has relented. An excerpt from their statement. Thanks for all your actions!


BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - On Wednesday, September 26, Verizon Wireless received a letter from NARAL regarding the company's policy on text messaging. The following statement may be attributed to Jeffrey Nelson, spokesperson for Verizon Wireless.
"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.
"Upon learning about this situation, senior Verizon Wireless executives immediately reviewed the decision and determined it was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy. 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.
"Verizon Wireless is proud to provide services such as text messaging, which are being harnessed by organizations and individuals communicating their diverse opinions about issues and topics. We have great respect for this free flow of ideas and will continue to protect the ability to communicate broadly through our messaging service."

Fantastic news!


NARAL Pro-Choice America, a friend of ours, has been banned by Verizon Wireless from sending text messages to supporters through their network. It's a shameless attempt to silence advocates for a woman's right to choose, which fits with their political donation history as well (at least 59% of donations to Republican candidates every cycle in the last ten years).

Here's NARAL's response - I got this in my email this morning. Help out by taking action here.

I've got some bad news for you: even your cell phone isn't safe from censorship.

Last week Verizon Wireless deemed NARAL Pro-Choice America too "controversial" and "unsavory" to approve a short code for our text-messaging program.

Not familiar with the term "short code"? That's okay. The bottom line is that Verizon won't let its customers access our text-messaging program.

Verizon's decision sends chills down my spine. What kind of company would deny its customers who signed up to receive information the ability to use their cell phones to participate in our democracy? That's just wrong.

I've sent a letter to Verizon president and CEO Lowell McAdam asking him to end his company's policy. But Verizon hasn't contacted me with an official response - so now I'm asking for your help. Please send your own message to Verizon opposing their decision today!

The principle at stake here is simple. Verizon Wireless' customers have every right to decide what actions to take with their phones, regardless of their political views.

If you think that Verizon, which controls 25 percent of the cell-phone market, has no business deciding what information their customers can and can't receive, I hope you take action today.

Thank you for standing with us.


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