Thursday, September 27, 2007

Verizon gets message on users’ right to choose

Reversing an earlier decision, Verizon Wireless announced today that it will allow NARAL Pro-Choice America to send text messages to Verizon customers who sign up on the advocacy group’s Web site for the messaging service.

The New York Times reported this morning that the telecommunications company had a policy against carrying messages from any group that promotes an agenda or distributes content that, in Verizon’s opinion, can be seen as “controversial or unsavory” to its users. The “unsavory” issue in this case was abortion itself, not necessarily NARAL’s pro-choice position.

Verizon’s ban sparked a debate about the rights of a private company to effectively censor certain messages. In response, NARAL launched a Web campaign today where people can sign a form letter asking Verizon to “end this ill-advised policy and reassure its customers that they can receive the legal information in the form they have asked.”

Now, according to the Associated Press, Verizon has “reviewed the decision and determined it was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy.”

What do you think? Is Verizon putting itself at risk by carrying advocacy messages from a third party, or are they simply supporting free speech?

-LIZ FARMER, Legal Affairs Writer

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