24 Jan 2008

Big Brother Is Blocking

Should your cell phone company decide who can send you a text message? Should your Internet service provider block your Internet movie because it doesn’t like the file-sharing service you’re using?

We suspect that most consumers would say no. When people sign up for a communications service, Big Brother shouldn’t come with the deal.
Two recent incidents, however, show that some corporations are willing to stick their noses in their customers’ business. The Federal Communications Commission should tell them to butt out. If the FCC won’t, Congress should.
The first involved Verizon. Last September, the phone company blocked a text-message subscription service offered by the pro-abortion-rights group NARAL. The key phrase there is “subscription service.”
Phone companies do a service for subscribers by blocking a lot of text-message “spam” �” unwanted commercial come-ons that drive e-mail users crazy. But the NARAL service wasn’t that. Cell phone users had to sign up to get the messages.
Politicians and interest groups of all stripes are using text messaging to rally their supporters. A study by Princeton University and the University of Michigan found that text-mail reminders raise voter turnout by 4.2 percent among young people

STLtoday: Big Brother Is Blocking

Also see: "Verizon's Crocodile Tears Mask a Threat to Democracy"