Faced with a free moment on Saturday night, I succumbed to the temptation to check the GigaOM site on my BlackBerry. But when I clicked on my browser, I ended up in the Verizon start page. After checking that I had indeed clicked through the correct icon, I realized (with some irritation) that I had to go back in and change my settings to get my GigaOM home page back.
A quick call to Verizon’s customer service elicited no information, other than a guess that the phone had been updated and it erased the settings. Beyond the irritation, the unexpected and unauthorized change to my settings was a reminder that the phone still exists in a completely different world from that of the desktop or the notebook. If people connected to the web and found their settings changed by their ISP, there would be freakouts all over the blogosphere.But on the phone, the place where we’re spending an increasing amount of our online minutes, mild irritation and a quick jaunt over to settings was all I could muster. However, with beefier computers such as netbooks relying on mobile networks (and faster wireless networks such as WiMAX that are angling to compete with cable and DSL), perhaps I should freak out.
Such an update is pretty invasive, especially from a carrier that already blocks some of my smartphone’s niftier features, such as navigation, in hopes of lining its own pockets. This little incident has me wondering: As we do more over wireless data networks, what rights should users expect, and how should carriers communicate the rights they’re willing to give — and take?