The lack of a cell phone service in the wake of Hurricane Sandy a few weeks ago stripped those affected of one of the most basic communication tools needed in order to facilitate relief and notify and get in touch with loved ones in the wake of the storm. The issue at hand, as pointed out by Contributor Susan Crawford in her article, is that the federal government has no authority over telecommunications companies to guarantee reliable and reasonably priced service to the American public due to increasing deregulation over the past ten years based on the networks’ claims of constitutional right to “editorial discretion.” As the likelihood of annual tropical storms in the U.S., at least in the northeast, increases due to climate change, the issue takes on growing significance.
Verizon certainly has the constitutional right to make this argument. The country needs to understand, however, that what it’s asking for is to privilege its own speech over that of more than 300 million Americans…The Constitution shouldn’t be used as a sledgehammer to protect the business interests of a small set of giant companies on whose services the entire country depends.”
It is appalling that the general public, one-third of which relies on mobile phone service as their exclusive voice-communications engine, is denied an explanation of why the telecom carriers failed to take the backup precautions recommended in such a dire situation because the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is, simply, not allowed to inquire. What would you do if you could not get in touch with a loved one during a natural disaster for an indefinite period of time? From first hand experience it’s, quite frankly, terrifying and unnecessary in any country whose government is accountable to its people.