Digital Rights Group Presses FCC To Rule Against Mobile Censorship

Digital rights group Public Knowledge is pressing the Federal Communications Commission to rule that telecoms can't discriminate when bestowing short codes for text messages any more than they can decide which phone calls to put through.

"Carriers have gone so far as to make explicit their intent to ensure that the lawful speech that travels across these systems matches their 'corporate values,' is 'in good taste,' does not 'disparage' them or their affiliates, and is otherwise subject to their discretion," the group wrote to the FCC in a filing this week.

The current debate about text messaging began last year, when Verizon Wireless refused to provide a short code to abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America so the organization could text its supporters. After an article about the issue appeared in The New York Times, the company said it changed its position.

Public Knowledge and other groups filed a complaint with the FCC, arguing that telecoms shouldn't censor speech they deem objectionable.



The telecoms say they need to prevent spam on their networks, which might be a legitimate concern. But there's a big difference between trying to stamp out spam and insisting messages be "in good taste."

With more and more people replacing landlines with cell phones and relying increasingly on text messaging to communicate, carriers can do a lot of damage by refusing to issue short codes. The FCC should make it clear that phone carriers can't take it upon themselves to decide which groups are worthy of short codes and which ones will be silenced.

2 comments about "Digital Rights Group Presses FCC To Rule Against Mobile Censorship ".
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  1. Jim Dugan from PipPops LLC, December 16, 2008 at 5:58 p.m.

    Amen, brothers and sisters~

  2. Cal Morton from Fulcrum Mobile, December 16, 2008 at 6:34 p.m.

    And why do they (carriers) feel it's necessary to incessantly audit standard rate rate short codes. They complain about the costs of maintaining short codes on thier network.. they're creating the costs needlessly.

    We maintain short codes in the UK and US, in the UK the carriers are not a factor unless you do something wrong. Here you're assumed to be up to no good for even wanting a short code...they still seem to treat every application as if its for a premium rate wallpaper or ringtone campaign.

    I could go on, drives me nuts!

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