No SMS Censorship, Argue US Advocacy Groups

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Apr 16, 2008

A group of US advocacy groups, in a press call on Monday, reiterated that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to prohibit mobile phone carriers from blocking political text messages. Public Knowledge, Free Press, and mobile vendors like Mobile Commons had filed a complaint with the FCC last fall when when Verizon Wireless refused Naral Pro-Choice America, a women's rights group, from sending messages to people who had opted into a text-message campaign.

We reported on the case. Verizon quickly reversed its decision afterextensive media coverage and public organizing. However, Gigi Sohn from Public Knoweldge, as quoted in this article in InfoWorld said that "if wireless carriers are allowed to decide who can speak to whom, it has huge implications for free speech, civic discourse, accessibility for the disabled ... and for competition,"

It is worth quoting the Infoworld article to understand the issue as it affects public interest and advocacy text messaging and other mobile carriers have argued that an FCC rule is not necessary and could hurt consumers. Mobile-phone users could be inundated with spam messages if carriers are not allowed to block some messages, several carriers have argued.

Public Knowledge and other groups calling for FCC action failed to "present any facts that could justify regulation," Verizon Wireless said in March 14 comments to the FCC. Verizon Wireless has approved more than 3,200 requests for groups to send text messages, the company said.


The carriers' concern about messaging spam is misguided, said Jed Alpert, CEO of Mobile Commons, a text-messaging marketing vendor. The petition before the FCC is asking the agency to prohibit mobile carriers from blocking messages that their customers have asked to receive, not unwanted spam messages, he said.

Nothing that's being asked for here, in any way at all, increases the likelihood that anyone would get spam on their mobile phone," Alpert said. "These are all [messaging] programs that require the user opt in, in some cases, multiple times." has also filed comments with the FCC. Public comments about the complaint closed on Monday.


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