T-Mo Sued Over Medical Marijuana Related Short Code Ban

T-Mobile has been sued by mobile marketing firm EZ Texting, one of those firms that provides those short code ad campaigns (text phrase x to number y). EZ Texting alleges that T-Mobile blocked EZ Texting from access to their network because of a client, weedmaps.com (AKA legalmarijuanadispensary.com), whose site provides information on medical marijuana.

It should be noted that weedmaps.com, as the suit states, works with those people who live in states where medical marijuana is legal and is thus itself legal. The lawsuit (.PDF) adds that despite working with weedmaps.com for over a year, EZ Texting dropped them as a client, fearing T-Mobile's actions would drive them out of business.

After all, T-Mobile was cutting off all access to EZ Texting, not just messages related to one client. One can clearly see that clients would move to other services since they could not rely on EZ Texting for T-Mobile service.

However, even after EZ Texting informed T-Mobile of its decision, T-Mobile cut them off last week. The suit claims Ez Texting will go out of business unless access to T-Mobile's network is restored.

EZ Mobile's filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. It reads,
"This action has imperiled EZ Texting's relationship with all its consumers, whose identities I cannot reveal for fear that EZ Texting's competitors, who are not having messages to and from their short codes unlawfully blocked by T-Mobile, soliciting these customers."
The public interest group Public Knowledge, which is hosting the .PDF document above, issued the following statement in the matter:
“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. The FCC should put a fast end to this blocking by issuing the ruling we asked them for three years ago. EZ Texting and other companies should be able to focus on growing their business rather than filing lawsuits to prevent blocking.”
What PK is referring to is their 2007 petition filed with the FCC, which asked that the nondiscrimination laws that apply to phone calls be extended to text messaging.

That petition was filed after Verizon Wireless told NARAL Pro-Choice America that it would not allow the pro-choice organization use short codes using Verizon's mobile network, because, the company said, carriers had the right to block "controversial or unsavory" SMS messages. Verizon later reversed its decision after extensive and fiery media coverage. In that case, NARAL allowed people to sign up for text message alerts by using a short code.