NARAL and The Christian Coalition Come Together For Freedom of Speech!

Nancy Keenan and Roberta Combs, presidents of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Christian Coalition respectively, co-wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post this
week entitled, “Can You Hear Us Now? Verizon Shouldn’t Be A Cellphone Censor.”

This unexpected alliance came weeks after Verizon Wireless denied NARAL access to a common texting program where users could receive instant updates by texting a four-digit code. Verizon claimed the right to block any content “that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory.”

There is no legal precedent to clarify if the laws that prevent carriers from interfering with voice communication over phones also pertain to text communication. The idea that carriers could block and allow content at their
discretion is a frightening one, and when this article appeared on the front page of the NY Times, Verizon felt the heat of public reaction. The company quickly reversed its decision, dimly stating that the ban had resulted from an “incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy,” though it retained its right to block future information on a discretionary basis.

Keenan and Combs are clear and uncompromising:

Whatever your political views — conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, pro-choice or pro-life — it shouldn’t be up to Verizon to determine whether you receive the information you requested. Why should any company decide what you choose to say or do over your phone, your computer or your Blackberry?

If corporations can’t tell Americans what to say on a phone call, they shouldn’t be able to control content or tell us what to say in a text message, an e-mail or anywhere else.

Certainly, the fact that these two women stand side-by-side on this issue, speaks volumes of its
overriding importance to our basic freedoms in activism and beyond.

More Reading

Free Speech Shouldn’t End At Verizon’s Door

Verizon Flip-Flop on Pro-Choice Text Ad May Portend Future Disputes



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