T-MobileT-Mobile's relationship with companies that use its mobile service to send texts is rapidly deteriorating. One day after a digital startup vowed to drop T-Mobile over a forthcoming fee hike, another texting company has sued T-Mobile for blocking its service.

The reason? Apparently T-Mobile "did not approve" of a company called EZ Texting, which does business with a website, WeedMaps.com, that provides information on the location of legal medical marijuana dispensaries in California.

On Friday, EZ Texting sued T-Mobile in the U.S. District Court in New York City. EZ Texting says that on Sept. 10th, T-Mobile began "unlawful blocking" of its 313131 text service, which it offers to business and non-profits to help get their message to the public.

"T-Mobile has cut off my code and put my business in jeopardy," Shane Neman, CEO of EZ Texting told DailyFinance. "There's nothing illegal about knowing about legal dispensaries in the states they are legal in."

Founded in 2006, New York-based EZ Texting has 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 says. "None of the other carriers are blocking us."

A Growing Problem

"EZ Texting is being irreparably damaged in its business because of the blocking by T-Mobile," Neman said in a declaration to the court. "The ability to exchange text messages with all cell phone users is vital to EZ Texting's business."

The case highlights the growing tension between new startups like ChaCha, 4Info and EZ Texting that use text messages to deliver content to users and the mobile carriers on whose networks those texts travel. T-Mobile is a division of German mobile giant Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY).

"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.

The company claims T-Mobile began blocking it after learning that a company that provides information about medical marijuana dispensaries in California was using the service. It says it was informed by OpenMarket -- the same aggregator as in the ChaCha situation -- that T-Mobile had found the site to be objectionable, hence the blocking.

Aggregators are middlemen that stand between publishers like ChaCha and EZ Texting, as well as Twitter, Facebook and ESPN, and the mobile subscribers they send content to.

T-Mobile issued a statement saying: "T-Mobile doesn't comment on pending litigation."

Signs of Things to Come?

Neman said that while the commercial aspect of T-Mobile's actions are important, there is a broader issue.

"Consumers should have the right to text with whomever they want," he says. "They have as much of 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 says.

Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, a DC-based advocacy group, blasted 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 in a statement. "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."

As new businesses spring up that rely on text messaging to serve content to customers, their relationship with the big mobile carriers will only get more acrimonious. T-Mobile's battles with ChaCha, 4Info and EZ Texting are signs of things to come.

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9 Comments

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Chuck

Legalizing marijuana was a bad idea and should be stopped before it gets worse. Because so many have used it,they can not see any problem even when death hits on their front porch from bullets just flying in the air. It is always somebody else,isn't it?

September 18 2010 at 12:29 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Chuck's comment
captkeebz

Obviously the extreme profitability ensured by marijuana prohibition is what drives organized crime violence. For every user/dealer/kingpin that we throw in jail, another is guaranteed to fill his place the next day for the this reason. Try to use your brain.

September 21 2010 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hzeus777

Tmobile still uses Americans for their customer service and they have great customer service and I love them anyways

September 17 2010 at 11:42 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hzeus777's comment
captkeebz

Yes, condone illegal censorship. What a good patriot you are.

September 21 2010 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BobGrumbine

The senders of such messages on any of the topics mentioned would do well to remember that the DO NOT CALL law prohibits the solicitation of noncustomers and other unrelated persons of the specific companies and/or purported services sending any form of message whether by invasive trespassing telemarketing telephone calls or by costly to recipients text messaging.

September 17 2010 at 7:29 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to BobGrumbine's comment
xplosiv917

Yeah but the do not call has no consideration in this matter. The businesses that send these texts dont do so randomly.....the mobile customer would have to first send an SMS (text) message to in this case 313131 which enrolls them to receive the messages from EZ texting. Maybe you should actually comprehend what you are reading before making the attempt to post an intelligent sounding comment.

September 18 2010 at 5:31 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
captkeebz

If you information that states that they were breaking laws, why not post it here? The article doesn't mention this.

September 21 2010 at 12:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dragon

Companies like T-Mobile are going to have to realize their responsibilities as common carriers...or lose the privileges thereof. P.S. I saw what you did there in the dateline, Sam...and I approve.

September 17 2010 at 5:32 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dragon's comment
xplosiv917

Lol....I too noticed the article was posted at 4:20.....which just so happens to be my favorite time AND day of the year!

September 18 2010 at 5:33 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply