Today, the New York Times reported that the telecommunications giant Verizon had refused to allow Naral Pro-Choice America to use its services for a text-message program, claiming “it had a right to block ‘controversial or unsavory’ text.”
Shortly after the Times reported the story on its front page today, Verizon quickly issued a statement retracting its decision, and said the company had “determined [the decision] was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy.”
Verizon shouldn’t stop there. It has plenty of “dusty internal policies” that need some brushing up:
Verizon provided customer information for NSA warrantless wiretaps. A $20 billion lawsuit was brought against Verizon in 2006 alleging that the company provided customer information to the government for use in the NSA’s warentless wiretapping program. Verizon’s initial legal defense was to claim that providing accurate information to the government was covered by the first amendment.
Verizon vehemently opposed net-neutrality legislation, which “would prevent telecom operators and broadband providers from creating a two-lane system that would establish a pay-for-play tier system of premium services.” Steven E. Zipperstein, General Counsel for Verizon Wireless, told a House committee in July, “We believe the quest for open access or, as some refer to it — network neutrality — is a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist.”
Verizon tried to stop the city of Philadelphia from proving low-cost, Wi-Fi internet access in poor, inner city neighborhoods. They lobbied the Pennsylvania legislature to successfully pass a law that would “prohibit a government or any entity it creates from offering broadband for a fee.”
Recently, National Intelligence Mike McConnell confirmed Verizon’s involvement in the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program and said that the lawsuits against Verizon and other telecommunications companies should be dropped.
Newsweek reported that Verizon is “working closely with the White House” to carry out “a secretive lobbying campaign” to get Congress to dismiss the lawsuits against the company. Before proceeding with a blanket immunity bill, Congress may want to take a closer look to determine whether Verizon’s “dusty” record merits rewarding them with the public’s trust.
UPDATE: The AFL-CIO blog notes that the National Labor Relations Board has charged Verizon Business with “interfering with, restraining and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights” to join a union that are supposedly protected by federal labor law.