updated 12:50 pm EST, Wed December 12, 2007
FCC to address SMS blocks
Several activist groups have submitted a petition to the FCC regarding SMS blocking, filings indicate. The problem, says a coalition include Public Knowledge, Educause and six other groups, is that cellular networks are sometimes blocking bulk text messages without legitimate pretext, hurting operations. One recent example comes from September, when Verizon refused to provide short codes to NARAL Pro-Choice America; although the group only wanted to send out opt-in alerts, Verizon said it would not allow "highly controversial" texts on its network.
While public reaction led Verizon to reverse the decision, other incidents have not gone in an open direction. Both Verizon and Alltel stopped a VoIP carrier, Rebtel, from sending voluntary text ads to the former's subscribers, admitting that this was solely because Rebtel was seen as a competitor.
US law currently prevents companies from censoring voice calls or e-mail, but free speech is not guaranteed with SMS. "This type of discrimination would be unthinkable and illegal in the world of voice communications," says the coalition, "and it should be so in the world of text messaging as well." [via Ars Technica]