Public interest groups are taking the net neutrality battle to the very small screen. The groups are pushing the FCC to stop the cellphone carriers from discriminating against text messages, The Washington Post reports.
In September, Verizon denied text messaging rights to NARAL, the abortion rights group. After complaints Verizon changed course and approved the group's application. And Rebtel, a small international long distance carrier, was blocked by Verizon and Alltel from sending out messages on their networks. The companies said they just don't want competitors to use their network.
"We are not obliged to let services that want to compete with us to use our facilities to do so," said a Verizon spokesman.
Text message control is a free speech issue, said Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge, one of the groups lobbying the FCC on this issue.
"Text messaging is becoming the phone call of the future, and it's still free speech," Sohn said yesterday in an interview. "This is corporate censorship of the most basic kind."
Democratic commissioner Michael J. Copps called for the FCC to get involved. "The question we should all be asking is how much gate-keeping goes on that we never hear about," he said. "The FCC needs to get into this one."