T-Mobile, EZ Texting Settle Lawsuit -- But Questions About Text-Blocking Linger

T-Mobile and mobile marketing company EZ Texting have reached a confidential agreement settling EZ Texting's lawsuit about blocked short codes. But questions surrounding wireless carriers' ability to block texts are far from resolved.

Two weeks ago, EZ Texting filed suit against T-Mobile, alleging that the wireless company had started blocking all EZ Texting short codes after learning that the company was delivering messages for a site that gives users information about obtaining medical marijuana. T-Mobile fired back that it had the right to block EZ Texting's short code because the company hadn't submitted new campaigns for prior review -- a violation of T-Mobile's rules.

While the two companies argued over T-Mobile's actions, and whether the company had singled EZ Texting out for special treatment, consumer advocates issued repeated calls for the Federal Communications Commission to get involved. Groups including Free Press and Public Knowledge are asking the FCC to declare that texting is a telecommunications service, subject to common carrier rules. The advocacy organizations, which have been asking the FCC to act since 2007 -- when Verizon briefly prevented the abortion rights group NARAL from texting members -- said that the incident with EZ Texting shows an urgent need for FCC involvement.

Additionally, the Mobile Internet Content Coalitionfiled a letter complaining to the FCC about T-Mobile's blocking of EZ Texting. The wireless carrier then fired back a response asserting that the FCC has no jurisdiction over the provision of short codes. "The approval and oversight of a short code campaign ... is a marketing service that involves no transmission and thus is not subject to the Act at all," T-Mobile wrote.

Now that the EZ Texting dispute has been settled, the FCC has some breathing room. But the commission shouldn't take too long to figure out what to do here. Given recent history, it's probably only a matter of time until this type of incident happens again.

1 comment about "T-Mobile, EZ Texting Settle Lawsuit -- But Questions About Text-Blocking Linger".
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  1. Jonathan Madnick from Mobile Ecosystems DC, October 18, 2010 at 4 p.m.

    confidential agreement? Oh come on, do tell!

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