September 27, 2007 / 2:11 PM / 12 years ago

Verizon Wireless to allow abortion rights messages

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless will allow an abortion rights group to set up a text message alert system for its subscribers, after initially refusing the request based on what the company called an outdated policy against unwanted messages, a spokesman said on Thursday.

The sign for the Verizon Wireless store is seen in Lakewood, Colorado September 11, 2007. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The second-largest U.S. mobile phone carrier had denied a request from NARAL Pro-Choice America to set up text message alerts for subscribers who sign up for notices with a number known as a short code.

The decision was based on what the company described as a “dusty internal policy” aiming to protect subscribers from unwanted messages.

Verizon Wireless said the policy was created before it had designed spam filters and other measures against anonymous hate messages or adult materials.

“The decision not to allow text messaging on an important, though sensitive, public policy issue was incorrect, and we have fixed the process that led to this isolated incident,” Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said in a statement.

Nelson said the NARAL message system had already been created and that the company would not restrict similar services to groups or individuals.

“We have great respect for this free flow of ideas and will continue to protect the ability to communicate broadly through our messaging service,” he said.

Verizon Wireless had provided short codes in few instances in the past, such as a request from the Red Cross to solicit donation pledges in the event of a natural disaster.

Other major U.S. wireless carriers have agreed to allow NARAL to set up a group text messaging system, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Verizon is a venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc.

Reporting by Sinead Carew and Michele Gershberg

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