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T-Mobile admits to censoring text messages

Weeds out free speech
Thu Sep 23 2010, 17:05

MOBILE OPERATOR T-Mobile has admitted that it picks and chooses which text messages to deliver on its network.

The admission came in legal case in which the mobile operator is being sued by the short-code text service EZ Text. The text marketing firm, which signed up a California marijuana dispensary found that it fell afoul of T-Mobile's apparently secret guidelines.

T-Mobile said that it reserved the right to pre-approve EZ Text's clients, a list of which it says the firm never submitted. In the New York federal court filing, T-Mobile said it requires pre-approval "to protect the carrier and its customers from potentially illegal, fraudulent, or offensive marketing campaigns conducted on its network".

Although one might understand T-Mobile wanting to cover its back with some sort of vetting procedure, the idea that certain text messages can be discarded without any notice is something that will concern its subscribers. That T-Mobile doesn't make the process as transparent as it should be raises the question of possible censorship.

EZ Text is hoping that the federal judge assigned to the case comes up with an answer soon, as it says that T-Mobile's actions are likely to run it out of business.

For T-Mobile, the admission that it can censor text messages is likely to cast a bright light on what other sources, message contents and destinations it deems to fall under its "discretion". µ


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