Feeds

T-Mobile sued for censoring weed service

Very, very unwise words, man

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

T-Mobile USA is being sued for cutting off a message service offering guidance to those seeking legal access to cannabis, despite the service purging itself of references to the evil weed.

The company concerned, EZ Texting, is now taking T-Mobile to court on the grounds that a network operator isn't allowed to make moral judgments on the content it carries. Even if it were, EZ Texting removed all traces of marijuana from its system before T-Mobile brought in the ban that's now destroying its business.

EZ Texting is a small company that manages text messaging for companies wanting to stay in touch with their customers. End users send a text containing a request keyword to a common short code ("313131" in the case of EZ Texting), EZ Texting then responds with a message provided by the company paying for the service.

For the last year or so one of those companies was WeedMaps - providing locations of places where those with a prescription for marijuana (legal in California and a few other states) can pick up a bag.

WeedMaps is used by those poor souls for whom marijuana can provide pain relief, but a quick look at the WeedMaps forum shows that some are clearly enjoying different kind of relief.

Which is probably why T-Mobile took such offence at the service, once it had noticed. EZ Texting, whose connectivity goes through a chain of third parties (4INFO and Open Market) before getting to the carriers, heard on September 9 that T-Mobile had problems with the weed-provisioning service so (in fear) told WeedMaps it would have to find someone else to deliver its messages.

But that wasn't enough for T-Mobile which (according to the filing - pdf) started blocking all EZ Texting's messages on 10 September:

"In other words, even when EZ Texting acceded to T-Mobiles (unreasonable and unlawful) demand simply to prevent further damage to EZ Texting's entire business, EZ Texting's short code was still blocked by T-Mobile."

Being unable to deliver messages to T-Mobile customers obviously makes EZ Texting's business unsustainable, so in addition to immediate reconnection the company is demanding $75,000 in damages (times three, 'cos T-Mobile knows what it's doing).

According to the filing T-Mobile has told EZ Texting to set up a new relationship with the various third parties, but the company reckons that would take six months, during which its customer base would disappear.

Some are comparing this case to the debate over Net Neutrality, though it's not really the same debate.

American phone companies already have a legal obligation to connect phone calls (and deliver text messages) in a non-discriminatory fashion - a law of which Google Voice fell foul. We've asking T-Mobile USA how it justifies the block, but have yet to hear back.

The operator does appear to dislike companies that use a single short code to provide multiple services, but that's hardly a reason to block EZ Texting's traffic when many other companies operate in the same way; so it will be interesting to see what defence the operator mounts. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.