According to a New York Times article by Adam Liptak, Verizon Wireless has not allowed abortion rights group Naral Pro-Choice America to sign up for a text messaging program that is used by other advocacy groups. Verizon says it’s nothing personal:
“Our internal policy is in fact neutral on the position, “the spokesman, Jeffrey Nelson, said. “It is the topic itself” – abortion – “that has been on our list.”
As you’d imagine, this has already raised hackles in the pro-Net Neutrality camp. They must view it as a gift from on high. Whenever the prospects for Net Neutrality seem dim, ATT, Comcast, and Verizon can be counted on to send up a flare of hope, in the form of yet another PR gift like this one. It also allows Net Neutrality advocates to hammer home the point that consolidation among telecom providers has rendered distinctions between fixed-line and wireless increasingly meaningless. Deregulation means that there are no longer “mobile” carriers and “fixed-line” carriers. There are just carriers. Customers know it, too. The Internet is increasingly intertwingled with what used to be considered the “offline” world. Ask anyone under 25 if they see a difference between the Internet and mobile phones, and they’ll likely respond that they’d never really thought of it that way. It’s all just communication. So what happens when all of your digital communication is neatly packaged and delivered in a triple-play or “ultimate play” bundle from one provider? In theory as a consumer you have the choice to select another provider. But should you have to make your purchasing decision on the basis of whether you think your communications carrier might censor what travels over its network? Is that a decision most consumers can even make, given that by its nature censorship is sometimes not discovered until well after the censorship has taken place, and given that switching providers brings its own not insignificant transaction cost?