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Verizon's Illegal Blocking of Android Apps


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May 10, 2011
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I just got this email, and in light of the discussion in another thread about Apple turning of the iPhone cameras at certain events, I thought I'd share. I'm posting in off topic, since this does not pertain to iPhones, but rather Androids:

Dear Annie,

What if your Internet service provider told you what kind of computer you could use and what kind of software you could run on it? Would you stand for it?

It's not a theoretical question. Verizon Wireless and other mobile carriers, with Google's help, are blocking Android applications they don't like from the Android Market.

All of these companies are harming innovation and openness. But Verizon's actions are actually illegal. That's why we filed a complaint with the FCC, calling out Verizon for blatantly breaking the FCC's "open access" rules by blocking apps that can be used on its 4G network.

Click here to urge the FCC to investigate Verizon's illegal app blocking.

Two years ago, the FCC licensed Verizon Wireless to use a valuable chunk of the public airwaves — or spectrum — for its 4G data service. Thanks to Free Press' efforts, this spectrum came with a set of "open access" conditions: Verizon could not block any devices or applications from connecting to its new 4G network.

Then, last month, tech blogs reported that several carriers, including Verizon, asked Google to remove wireless tethering applications — which turn smartphones into Wi-Fi hotspots — from Google's open Android Market, effectively blocking them from being used on all networks, including 4G.

Verizon was the only carrier with a legal requirement to keep its 4G network open — but it ignored the FCC's rule. If Verizon is allowed to ignore the law, what's to stop it from blocking other applications it doesn't like?

Open networks are the key to our mobile future:
Urge the FCC to hold Verizon accountable for breaking the law.

The carriers' rationale for blocking tethering apps is clear enough — they want to charge their customers up to $30/month to do what these apps do for free.

But mobile users already pay high rates for mobile data plans. Whether these plans are unlimited or capped, the type of applications and data we use — or the device we use to access them — shouldn't matter.

In the next few years, more and more of our media will flow over 4G networks. As we experience this huge technological shift, we need to protect consumers from carrier abuse — lest Verizon and its friends become emboldened to take advantage of us even more.

Take action now to put a stop to Verizon's mobile app blocking. We can't allow it to get away with breaking the law.


Josh Levy
Online Campaign Manager
Free Press

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