Senator: Verizon Wireless Proves Need for Net Neutrality

U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan calls Verizon Wireless' initial decision to reject text messages from a pro-abortion group "troublesome."

Verizon Wireless decision to reject text messages from a pro-abortion rights group and its sudden reversal under public pressure is why the country needs a network neutrality law, U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, said Sept. 27.

Verizon Wireless had told NARAL Pro-Choice America that it would not carry text messages from the group, prompting an outcry of censorship from NARAL and other public policy advocates. All other major carriers had agreed to carry the text messages on their networks.

The nations second largest wireless carrier quickly changed its mind and blamed the initial decision on an "incorrect interpretation" of company policy.

"Verizon may have reversed its initial decision in this case, and Im glad they did. But the fact that they were willing and able to take their initial action is very troublesome," Dorgan said in an e-mail to eWEEK.

Dorgan and Sen. Olympia Snowe have been stumping for federal legislation to impose network neutrality laws on broadband carriers since they introduced the Internet Freedom Act in January. The bill would bar high-speed Internet carriers from discriminatory practices against Internet content, application and service providers.

The bill has gained little traction in the Senate, partially because of intense lobbying by the telecom industry, which claims there is no need for legislation.

"The network service providers often claim that the effort to ensure network neutrality is a solution in search of a problem, but this is fresh evidence that the problem is real and with us now," Dorgan said. "We need to protect network neutrality by law."

NARAL Pro-Choice America called Verizon Wireless reversal a cautionary victory. Once the story of Verizon Wireless initial decision became public, the group generated more than 20,000 messages in two hours pressuring Verizon Wireless to change its mind.

"We should take great solace in this initial victory, but we must remain vigilant in preventing corporations, business interests and other third parties from blocking Americans ability to participate in the democratic process," Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement.


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