T-Mobile Sued For Blocking Marijuana Texts
EZ Texting has sued T-Mobile for blocking its service because T-Mobile “did not approve” of a the texting company doing business with a website, WeedMaps.com, that provides location information to help patients find medical marijuana dispensaries in the Golden State.
The suit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in New York City, reports Sam Gustin of Daily Finance. EZ Texting said that on September 10, T-Mobile began the “unlawful blocking” of its 313131 text service, which it offers to businesses and non-profits to help get their messages to the public.
“T-Mobile has cut off my code and put my business in jeopardy,” said Shane Neman, CEO of EZ Texting. “There’s nothing illegal about knowing about legal dispensaries in the states they are legal in.”
WeedMaps is just one of EZ Texting’s 10,000 small business and non-profit customers all over the country that use its SMS platform to send content to users.
“None of our customers can send texts through 313131 on T-Mobile,” Nemen said. “None of the other carriers are blocking us.”
“EZ Texting is being irreparably damaged in its business because of the blocking by T-Mobile,” Neman said in a court filings. “The ability to exchange text messages with all cell phone users is vital to EZ Texting’s business”
T-Mobile, a division of German mobile giant Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY), and other mobile carries are experiencing growing tension with new startups like ChaCha, 4Info and EZ Texting that use text messages to deliver content to users. On Thursday, another digital startup threatened to sue T-Mobile over a forthcoming rate hike, reports Daily Finance.
“EZ Texting has a rigorous screening process to ensure that the businesses and non-profits that use EZ Texting to send text messages are doing so in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,” Neman said.
T-Mobile began blocking texts after it discovered that WeedMaps, a company that provides information about medical marijuana dispensaries in California, was using the service, according to EZ Texting.
EZ Texting said it was informed by agregator OpenMarket that T-Mobile had found the site to be “objectionable,” and had blocked it.
Aggregators like OpenMarket are the middlemen between publishers like EZ Texting, as well as Twitter and Facebook, and the mobile subscribers to which they send content.
“T-Mobile doesn’t comment on pending litigation,” the mobile carrier said in statement.
There is a broader issue beyond the commercial aspect of T-Mobile’s actions, according to Neman.
“Consumers should have the right to text with whomever they want,” he said. “They have as much a right to make text messages as they do phone calls. If T-Mobile is blocking legal medical marijuana texts, what’s next — gay marriage, the Tea Party?” Neman said.
President and co-founder Gigi Soghn of DC-based advocacy group Public Knowledge assailed T-Mobile for blocking a legal service.
“This case is yet another example of a totally arbitrary decision by a carrier to block text message calls between consumers and organizations they want to communicate with,” Sohn said.
“The FCC should put a fast end to this blocking by issuing the ruling we asked them for three years ago,” Sohn said. “EZ Texting and other companies should be able to focus on growing their business rather than filing lawsuits to prevent blocking.”
Steve Elliott, a working journalist since 1982, is editor of Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media’s site of cannabis news, views, rumor and humor. To stay informed on the latest developments follow Toke of the Town on Twitter.