T-Mobile 'pot censorship' case goes up in smoke

A text messaging company that sued T-Mobile claiming that it blocked its service because one of its clients was in the medical marijuana business has reportedly settled out of court.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

A federal case which alleged wireless carrier T-Mobile had blocked text messages from a service that claimed a medical marijuana dispensary as one of its clients, was settled outside of the court this week according to a report in Wired.com.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleged that T-Mobile had blocked all clients of a New York company called EZ Texting, specifically because one of those clients was a medical marijuana dispensary search service that operates the site WeedMaps.com. EZ Texting's service lets its clients solicit customers by having them text a keyword to a "short code" with their mobile phones, and then lets them send mass text messages to those who have signed up.

A filing from T-Mobile last month explained that as part of law enforcement and antifraud measures, the company asserts "discretion to require pre-approval for any short-code marketing campaigns run on its network, and to enforce its guidelines by terminating programs for which a content provider failed to obtain the necessary approval."

Wired.com contacted legal sources who said that the terms of the settlement dictate that T-Mobile has agreed to stop blocking EZ Texting as a whole but that it's not yet clear whether the marijuana alerts service is now permitted.

But an external counsel for EZ Texting said that Wired's original story was incorrect. "EZ Texting and T-Mobile want to correct a misstatement in David Kravets' Wired.com story released earlier today concerning the supposed requirements of the settlement agreement between the parties," a statement sent to CNET via e-mail on Friday evening read. "That settlement requires EZ Texting to abide by applicable law and mobile marketing guidelines, including T-Mobile's guidelines, before launching any text message campaigns aimed at T-Mobile customers. The settlement does not require T-Mobile to 'stop blocking' any unapproved text message campaigns."

This post was updated at 11:38 a.m. PT on Saturday, October 2.