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Sick of constant media bashing, Verizon funds a tech news site where the NSA and net neutrality don’t exist

Published Oct 29th, 2014 10:00PM EDT
Verizon Net Neutrality NSA

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It’s hard being Verizon sometimes. The poor little wireless carrier and Internet service provider often gets a bum rap in the tech press for its controversial actions on net neutrality and on enabling the American government’s surveillance programs. To combat these nattering negative ninnies in the media, Verizon has decided to take action and bankroll its own news site where none of those nasty sorts of stories will ever pop up.

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The Daily Dot reports that the Verizon-bankrolled tech news site is reaching out to hire full-time editors whose job will be to grow the site into a tech news behemoth. There are a couple of catches, however: The Dot’s sources say they will not be allowed to write about either net neutrality or the NSA scandal, which just happen to have been two of the hottest stories in tech in recent years.

“In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world,” The Daily Dot writes. “Curiously, Verizon’s self-censorship applies only to surveillance conducted by the United States. SugarString reporters are allowed to write, and have already written about, spying in other countries. Chinese surveillance, for instance, is fair game, as made evident in this article about anonymizing hardware, which mentions Chinese dissidents who risk their lives against state surveillance.”

And it gets even more interesting: Verizon now tells Ars Technica that the editor it charged with hiring new writers has completely mischaracterized the company’s own policies on SugarString, although we find it hard to imagine that he just arbitrarily chose to tell people that the NSA and net neutrality were off limits given how those two topics are ones that Verizon isn’t particularly keen to see publicized.

“SugarString is a pilot project from Verizon Wireless’ marketing group, designed to address tech trends, especially those of interest to our customers,” Verizon told Ars. “Unlike the characterization by its new editor, SugarString is open to all topics that fit its mission and elevate the conversation around technology.”

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.