Professor Lodges Complaint over Verizon's Block of Google Wallet
Bank Technology News reports on Prof. van Schewick's recent letter to the FCC.
A Stanford University professor has filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission urging it to investigate Verizon Wireless's blocking of Google Wallet on its new smart phone.
Barbara van Schewick, a professor of law and electrical engineering, said in the letter dated Monday that Verizon had violated "open-devices and open-applications conditions in its legal licenses" for part of the spectrum over which its LTE network operates. These conditions forbid the mobile company from blocking applications or devices.
Van Schewick asked the FCC to "investigate the situation as quickly as possible and to send a signal to the market" that "openness conditions will be enforced." She said that Verizon's actions hurt its consumers, competition and innovation.
Van Schewick also noted that Verizon "has an incentive to undermine competition in mobile payments, and to eliminate any competitor's first-mover advantage." Verizon has partnered with other mobile providers to launch a competing payment service.
Verizon's new Galaxy Nexus phone went on sale on Thursday. Last week Free Press, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, filed its own objection with the FCC.
To block Google Wallet, Verizon is making it impossible for the mobile payment application to access the "secure element" in its smart phone, van Schewick said. A user's credit card information is stored on this chip separate from the phone's operating system and hardware.
Van Schewick has previously written to the FCC about Verizon. In June, she filed a letter asking the commission to investigate Verizon's blocking of tethering applications for public comment.