The Open Internet Coalition is appealing to Congress to conduct hearings into policies the major telcos have to censor network traffic and even disconnect the service of users engaging in behavior they deem harmful to the reputations. Whether written or unwritten, AT&T, Verizon and other telcos have had such codes of conduct in place for years--it's just that until the age of information services, no one noticed.
But recently, AT&T was slammed for censoring a Webcast Pearl Jam song that criticized President Bush, and Verizon Wireless was thrashed for blocking text messages from an pro-choice agency. These controversies brought not-often-discussed corporate policies into the public forum, and now telcos should be bracing for a tidal wave of unwanted publicity, possible anti-censorship legislation and the probable resurgence of the network neutrality debate. Welcome to the future, Ma Bell.