NYT: Verizon Censorship is a Warning

The New York Times is weighing in with an editorial on last week’s Verizon abortion text messaging censorship. The Times said that while Verizon admitted its mistake and pledged not to repeat it, it also reserved the right to do that again in the future.

“Leave aside for the moment the sorry spectacle of a major American company aiming to make campaigns even more substance-free than they already are. The Verizon policy was textbook censorship,” the article said. “Any government that tried it would be rightly labeled authoritarian. The First Amendment prohibits the United States government from anything approaching that sort of restriction.

“If Verizon had attempted it on normal phone lines, it would have been violating common carrier laws that bar interference with voice transmissions. Unfortunately, those laws do not apply to text messaging.”

The difference here, the Times said, is that newspapers control the content and the presses themselves, whereas Verizon controls the text messaging medium. “In the 1980s in the Soviet Union, you had to have a license from the Communist Party to own a Xerox machine; the Soviets understood that it was a printing press.” Hopefully this will be a wakeup call for net neutrality laws as well.

The Verizon Warning [NYT]