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T-Mobile Facing Lawsuit Over Text Message Censorship

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the stirring-the-pot dept.

Censorship 181

Tootech writes with this quote from Wired: "A mobile-marketing company claimed Friday it would go out of business unless a federal judge orders T-Mobile to stop blocking its text-messaging service, the first case testing whether wireless providers can block text messages they don't like. EZ Texting claims T-Mobile blocked the company from sending text messages for all of its clients after learning that legalmarijuanadispensary.com, an EZ Texting client, was using its service to send texts about legal medical marijuana dispensaries in California. 'T-Mobile subjectively did not approve of one of the thousands of lawful businesses and non-profits served by EZ Texting,' according to New York federal lawsuit."

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181 comments

Well they are private (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33619448)

It's not really censorship. Besides, I never say anything that needs to be censored.

Re:Well they are private (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619468)

Medical marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

A possible outcome is that the messages in question will be subpoena'ed and forwarded to the DEA.

That said, T-Mobile, even if acting in the interests of not supporting illegal solicitation of drug business, is way out of line to be going after the marketing company over the actions of one of it's own clients.

Re:Well they are private (1, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619544)

Spam is spam. Do you want your cell phone going off 100 times a day with spam? There is no obligation to forward spam.

In fact, if you read your contract, they have no obligation to deliver ANY text message. They may attempt to. That's it. "We attempted to, It didn't pass through the spam filters. Sux 2 B U"

besides, they were using the TMobile computer-to-sms gateway - they have no contractual arrangement with TMobile, so it's not even like Joe Blow Customer who can complain if his messages are getting censored.

Re:Well they aren't spam (5, Informative)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619786)

"Mobile phone users only receive text messages from EZ Texting’s customers upon request."

You text a request and it sends you a response, that's how EZ Text works. But don't read the article or anything.

Re:Well they aren't spam (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619902)

As I pointed out elsewhere, there is no requirement that TMobile make their sms gateway available to any non-subscriber, and that includes short-code services.

Also, there is no requirement that TMobile actually deliver *any* sms message - read your contract. the big print giveth, and the small print taketh away.

Re:Well they aren't spam (3, Interesting)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620244)

Dont we already have telephone neutrality?

Re:Well they aren't spam (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620504)

No, we broke it apart in the 70s because it was too socialist, and now the Bells come back home to roost as an unregulated monopoly.

Re:Well they aren't spam (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620218)

yea sure i believe that.

Re:Well they aren't spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620334)

They all claim that. It's a lie.

Example (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620430)

"You may have won $5,000.00. Text BUZZ420 to find out!"

Sucker texts BUZZ420, gets the "Sorry you didn't win, btw did you know that yadda yadda yadda."

He gets the spam after sending the short code. They will claim a pre-existing relationship from some email he may or may not have clicked on 5 years ago from some other place that included crap about sending offers from their "partners".

Re:Well they are private (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620476)

In fact, if you read your contract, they have no obligation to deliver ANY text message. They may attempt to. That's it. "We attempted to, It didn't pass through the spam filters. Sux 2 B U"

This is bullshit. "Attempt to" means a best effort or at the very least a reasonable effort attempt. If you didn't deliver the message because your spam filter stopped it, you didn't attempt to deliver it, for any reasonable definition of "attempt".

Of course the court might still agree with you, being run by lawyers rather than reasonable people, but still...

Re:Well they are private (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619650)

obama has stated that the 'war on drugs' is now the lowest prio in law enforcement. things have, in this regard, changed a lot since bush left office.

and as a calif. bay area resident, I can say that things have been much more relaxed the last few years, just in general, overall.

this is not anything about a federal move; its a single company with a moral judgement and putting itself up as judge and jury on this contentious political topic.

they should be fined so heavily as to send a clear message about 'selective filtering' due to political or religious (lets be honest, here) reasons.

otoh, I have to say THANKS for the free advertising this topic will now get in the mainstream press. good job, phone company guys. big dose (lol) of streisand coming right up!

Re:Well they are private (1, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619744)

>they should be fined so heavily as to send a clear message about 'selective filtering' due to political or religious (lets be honest, here) reasons.

Not sure I agree with you. Reading between the lines I get "Marketing firm lays the censorship card when falling foul of spam filter".
I hope they get laughed out of court, if spam filters become suable as illegal censorship we may be back on the road to endlessly reading about penis enlargement and 28 million unclaimed tax free dollars from a deposed Nigerian dictator or how we can even loose 50 pounds of fat an hour using this weird old tip (I'm guessing sharp scissors and a hoover).

Re:Well they are private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33619850)

>they should be fined so heavily as to send a clear message about 'selective filtering' due to political or religious (lets be honest, here) reasons.

Not sure I agree with you. Reading between the lines I get "Marketing firm lays the censorship card when falling foul of spam filter". I hope they get laughed out of court, if spam filters become suable as illegal censorship we may be back on the road to endlessly reading about penis enlargement and 28 million unclaimed tax free dollars from a deposed Nigerian dictator or how we can even loose 50 pounds of fat an hour using this weird old tip (I'm guessing sharp scissors and a hoover).

you'll never, ever eliminate spam until the morons who buy from spammers and fall for financial scams/phishing attacks either wise up, or, the rest of us with a clue get together and disconnect them from the Internet by whatever means necessary. those IDIOTS, those FUCKING IMBECILES who keep funding the spammers are the only reason why we still have spam. it is that simple.

until then the filtering is just putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. it might buy you time to get to the hospital but it sure as hell won't cure the problem.

Re:Well they are private (5, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620210)

but it wasn't spam.

no one is against actual spam filtering. but this was request/response, and that's not spam.

from TFA:

EZ Texting offers a short code service, which works like this: A church could send its schedule to a cell phone user who texted "CHURCH" to 313131. Mobile phone users only receive text messages from EZ Texting's customers upon request. Each of its clients gets their own special word. A party supplier might get "PARTY."

this isn't spam, its request/response.

to block that is just plain wrong.

Re:Well they are private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620034)

this is not anything about a federal move; its a single company with a moral judgement and putting itself up as judge and jury on this contentious political topic.

How can people be this fucking stupid?

Running T-Mobile's business is T-Mobile's problem. As long as they're obeying the law, they can offer any product they want. If they want to sell filtered text messaging then its nobody's business but their own.

If you don't want to buy selectively filtered text messages, then don't buy from T-Mobile. Not that difficult.

Tax money should not be wasted because you're too fucking retarded to figure this out yourself.

Re:Well they are private (0, Offtopic)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620348)

obama has stated that the 'war on drugs' is now the lowest prio in law enforcement. things have, in this regard, changed a lot since bush left office.

Oh, my god! What excuse will he have to interfere with and covertly invade Latin American countries? Who are the "baddies", now? The commies? The indians?

Re:Well they are private (1, Troll)

Chocolate Teapot (639869) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619552)

Besides, I never say anything that needs to be censored.

Well ain't you a f***ing saint!

Re:Well they are private (2, Interesting)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620300)

Censorship in the West is almost always private-vs-private.

Often, the courts serve as weapon to enforce private interests (see: libel tourism, CDMA takedowns, Wikileaks vs Bank Julius Baer, etc). This is sometimes called Accidental Censorship, but at the end of the day someone always wants this to happen, and the threat to democratic discourse and political minorities is just as real.

Here's a discussion of the concept:
http://commons.globalintegrity.org/2009/11/accidental-censorship-how-policy.html [globalintegrity.org]

Re:Well they are private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620646)

It is censorship. It's just legal censorship. Although selectively allowing/disallowing services like this is the type of thing that ought to lose you common carrier status, unless there was a legit business/technical reason behind it (i.e. they were spamming, or simply using up more resources than T-mobile could handle from an entity not under their subscription).

Re:Well they are private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620714)

I agree that, in general, private companies can't censor anything in a way that's legally prohibited. And I agree that people cry wolf about censorship far too often.

But blindly claiming "it's a private company" as a defense to censorship is A) simply not true -- anyone can censor information, it's just that non-governmental agencies can typically do it legally B) often ducking the real issue of "the company in question should not behave this way whether it's legal or not" and C) not a terribly solid defense particularly in the telecom world.

Just like ground telecom, there are practical limitations on the number of radio telecom competitors in a given area, and there can be high costs associated with switching even among those limited competitors. So, just like in ground telecom the *government*, which is forbidden from practicing censorship, grants certain private companies or individuals exceptional rights to use these limited resources, and as part of that deal, the grantees agree to exceptional regulation, which could include a prohibition from censorship.

Moreover, even if the company itself is not prohibited from censorship, they government may be prohibited from granting them the right to use our limited physical resources on the basis that such grants are de facto government censorship, even though the government does not directly operate the service.

And that's just off the top of my head without using any of the laws and regulations specifically applied to telecom providers. I'm sure a decent lawyer could come up with several more theories under which they could argue a cellular carrier is prohibited from censoring messages.

think different (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33619450)

nigger nigger nigger

--- Sent from my iPhone

Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (1, Insightful)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619458)

ISPs have an established precedent for blocking spam. Same concept, different medium.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619472)

I thought unsolicited advertising over mobiles was illegal?
In the states don't you guys have to pay for receiving texts as well?

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (3, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619626)

I don't normally carry a cellphone. but I did for a short while when I had to (life situation) and got a pre-paid cheap unit. it did what I needed it to do, just send and receive phone calls. as it turns out, it was tmobile and there was no way to disable incoming texts. and yes, each one was CHARGED to me. a malicious person could drain down my pre-paid (!) balance and the company would do nothing to help me stop them or even get credit for them (yeah, right, one at a time).

I let my prepaid tmobile run out and I never looked back. they will be the last carrier I ever use, if I do go back to using cellphones again (which I currently do not).

the fact that they charge for INCOMING texts is just beyond reprehensible. when I called to complain they just said 'well, buy a package plan'. yeah, right. NOT the solution I'm looking for, morans.

it may be the same with all carriers, now, though. you can't escape the fees for incoming texts if you are in the US. sucks, big-time!

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619816)

Verizon has the ability to block all texts.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620044)

hmm i have texting disabled on my tmobile account. It will not receive a text message other than the ones from T-Mobile(about me paying my bill and such), and those are free. Now i don't have a pre-paid sim, so maybe those are different.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (2, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620116)

yes, it was (maybe still is) different. I was NOT on contract, I was on pay-as-you-go mode.

they hope to lose you in the noise; tell you to buy a bulk plan so that the 'one or two' (yeah right) spams dont' really cost you anything since you had extra messages in your bulk plan (their sales pitch).

but you can't do that on prepaid. their prepaid 'story' had holes larger than swiss cheese.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (2, Informative)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620312)

I'm not sure how long ago that actually was.

I've been with tmobile for a few years and as long as I remember there has been the ability to block messages.

I just looked to confirm and it's actually more fine grained now. Email, Text, Picture, Content Downloads....or just block them all.

Every carrier I have been with also charged for incoming texts, but I also admit I have only used three in my lifetime. Myself, I rarely use text messages and active discourage anyone from sending me a message. It's far more economical to operate without a plan then to commit to even a base plan for any period of time.

My experience with their phone support is also completely backwards from yours. I have never once encountered a situation in which they acted as you described. Now ATT I have had very similar experiences with.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620514)

I have AT&T and went through the same thing for a couple months. They I told them to just disable text messaging because I wanted a phone to make/receive calls.
Now I don't get texts and save from having to pay for receiving spam.

Thanks for letting me know not to switch to tmobile.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619648)

It's not illegal if the advertising is sent to your existing customers.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (2, Informative)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619504)

In Poland, I get daily text messages saying that I won a million or a car, or whatever. For me, this is spam and advertisements that I do not want. I pay for my mobile phone and for every text message I send, call I make and whatnot, but the carrier still insists on sending me spam messages which annoy me. On a bad day it can get to five texts of spam and I can't simply ignore my phone thinking "nah, this is probably just spam" without checking it if it is important.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (1)

JDS13 (1236704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620336)

EZ Marketing's brief assets they do only "opt-in" marketing, with strict controls on who gets their offers. If that's true - and they're asserting it under penalty of perjury - then T-Mobile is censoring essentially private messages between consenting parties based on message content.

Re:Do u want V1aGra and pr0n txt msgs? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620896)

Spam, sure, but this is actual opt-in. That is, solicited (no 'un-') commercial email.This is also being done bu one of several carriers that claim they "can't" block text messaging.

Not common carrier (1, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619476)

Cell companies can block whatever they want. (Unless the law has recently changed and I didn't know about it.)
.

Re:Not common carrier (3, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619700)

That's wonderful news to me.

That means that when my girlfriend calls me on my mobile phone to break up with me, I can sue the mobile phone company for emotional distress! After all, they didn't have to deliver the call and they didn't check to see that the girl was emotionally stable before whitelisting her phone number.

The state of law for phone companies is that they just provide service, they aren't responsible for what goes over their lines as long as the bill is paid on time and they comply with court orders. Bridge operators aren't liable if somebody drives guns over the bridge contrary to state law, and phone companies aren't liable if somebody phones in a bomb threat.

However, once a carrier starts picking and choosing who they let use their service, they are no longer a common carrier. FedEx isn't liable when a misc package blows up. Sears is liable if a Sears truck delivers a package that blows up - since Sears doesn't deliver for the public.

Re:Not common carrier (-1, Troll)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619808)

If you're thinking that your girlfriend is even remotely the kind of woman that would break up with you via a phonecall, then you've got way bigger issues to contemplate than the intricacies of common carrier law.

Re:Not common carrier (2, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620142)

That means that when my girlfriend calls me on my mobile phone to break up with me

look, if you want to be believable here, you have to avoid outright lies.

this is slashdot.

come on.

Re:Not common carrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620448)

You don't think it likely that someone would break up with the GP?

Re:Not common carrier (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620782)

They can't block 911.

Is this legal? (2, Insightful)

kaptink (699820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619484)

How is it legal for a carrier to block messages from a legitimate customer unless the messages were spam? If they are offensive or illegal then its up to the police, yes? Isn't there regulations to stop carriers from either spying on or interfering with communications?

Re:Is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33619670)

Well "marketing company" said it already, they probably sent more then just a few messages. T-Mobile is a business, they would not filter text messages just "because they don't like" it. I'd take a bet that customers complained about spam-text and *then* they had a look into the matter.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619738)

It was opt-in, according to TFA.

Opt-in? Hahahaha! (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619772)

They all claim to be opt-in.

Try to get removed, and they don't.

Then, since you contacted them to get off their spam list, they now have a "previous relationship" with you.

Now if they had to pay every recipient - even a penny - spam would almost disappear. So don't tax email or spam - just make it a micro-transaction from one party to the other, and allow for me to white-list people who can send me stuff for free, and blacklist others who will have to pay a buck.

Re:Opt-in? Hahahaha! (2, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619924)

"They all claim to be opt-in.

Try to get removed, and they don't.

You are confusing opt-in with opt-out. Opt-in means I don't even get the first message unless I requested it.

Re:Opt-in? Hahahaha! (3, Informative)

Courageous (228506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620024)

He wasn't confusing it. He's saying the other end will claim you opted-in.

C//

Re:Opt-in? Hahahaha! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620304)

"He wasn't confusing it. He's saying the other end will claim you opted-in."

We must be reading two completely different posts.

Re:Opt-in? Hahahaha! (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620730)

Tom Hudson said "They all claim to be opt-in.".

You responded to Tom's post. He's saying a spammer will claim that you opted in to receive their spam. Granted, if you had some literal white listing technology on your side, you could block this, but disregarding technology, and looking at law, it's worth noting that laws requiring this and that (such as opt-in) will be of little interest to the unscrupulous.

What Tom was saying is that if the carriers charged to deliver email, the unscrupulous would be directly squelched by the sheer cost of operating spam at that scale.

C//

Re:Is this legal? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620284)

How is it legal for a carrier to block messages from a legitimate customer unless the messages were spam?

The fact that they can block spam stems from the fact that they can randomly pick what they want to let through and what they don't. Not the other way around.

You can also randomly pick where you want to do business.

What you don't get to do is tell someone else how to run their business.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620620)

What you don't get to do is tell someone else how to run their business.

Really? I though the US was found [wikipedia.org] on opposition to East Indian Company and its bought laws.

It's truly a pity when the lessons of history are forgotten: a large enough business is indistinguishable from any other empire.

Re:Is this legal? (2, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620936)

Except that blocking spam from their cell network is not the same as getting the government to tax items for you.

T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censorship (0, Troll)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619502)

Unless T-Mobile is now run by the government, blocking text messages isn't censorship. The messages run over their private networks, so they are free to pass or block them.

Re:T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censors (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619570)

They are using a limited US resource, in this case the radio spectrum. That might make things a little more complex.

Re:T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censors (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619946)

No it doesn't. The FCC is a federal agency and the marketer is wanting to market materials which violate federal law. For better or for worse those dispensaries are not legal and as such T-mobile has the right to block them.

Re:T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censors (3, Insightful)

OneMadMuppet (1329291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619642)

T-Mobile will tell you they're a COMMON CARRIER. That means they don't get to pick and choose who uses their service. By your reasoning (they can do anything they please on a private network) they could decide to drop all calls from Blacks, or women, or Republicans. How long would that be tolerated?

Re:T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censors (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619832)

It wouldn't be censorship. That was my only point. I didn't say anything about it being a problem. There are plenty of problematic things that don't fall under the label of censorship.

Re:T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censors (4, Informative)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620004)

Where in the hell did you people get the idea that "if it's not a government doing it, it's not censorship." It may not be illegal or constitutionally prohibited censorship, but if anybody stops you from communicating anything anywhere, it is censorship. You can argue whether it is legal, ethical, necessary, etc., but it is still censorship.

Re:T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censors (3, Informative)

Zorque (894011) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619998)

The definition of the word "censorship" says nothing about the Government. Just because those text messages don't get first amendment protection here doesn't mean they're not being censored.

Re:T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censors (2, Insightful)

neumayr (819083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620036)

Censorship is a free for all game, anyone can join in.
Or can you point me to some definition of censorship that required a government to do the actual censoring?

Re:T-Mobile not part of gov't, so it's not censors (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620250)

Censorship is censorship, no matter whether the government is doing the censoring, or a private company, or a private individual. It's still censorship. The government has different restrictions and obligations regarding censorship than private companies or individuals. You cannot claim "government censorship" in the case of Tmobile, but it still remains censorship.

Q&A (3, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619530)

Explain to me why you file this lawsuit in a federal court in New York and not a state court in California - where a judge just might be a little less hostile to the trade in "medical" marijuana.

Re:Q&A (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33619684)

Its called 'Venue.'

Usually it involves where the two parties do business at, not the recipients of the texts in CA. If a recipient of a text is the one suing, then this could be a Venue for a CA court.

Re:Q&A (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619964)

CA doesn't have jurisdiction over either company. Either WA or NY would be the relevant place to file suit. Which makes it a bit surprising given that T-mobile is based in WA and the suit should have really gone through the district court in WA state.

Re:Q&A (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620420)

"Explain to me why you file this lawsuit in a federal court in New York and not a state court in California - where a judge just might be a little less hostile to the trade in 'medical' marijuana."

Yeah, because no one in New York finds marijuana to be acceptable.

Block All Marketing Texts (4, Insightful)

cob666 (656740) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619576)

I'm all for shutting down marketing firms that depend solely on text messages. In the US, we pay for each text message that we receive (or it counts towards a monthly allotment). Imagine if your ISP allowed only 100 emails per month, unsolicited email would not be tolerated.

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (2, Insightful)

M4n (1472737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619692)

What?!?!?!?!?

You pay to receive text messages? What the hell is that all about then?

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619732)

greed. Yes, it costs me 5 cents to view a text message that I have received.

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619830)

What?!?!?!?!?

You pay to receive text messages? What the hell is that all about then?

Kind of explains why consumer debt is so high eh? ;)

I had the same reaction when I tried to get a US phone and they told me I'd pay for messages received. The worst part was they thought I was the crazy one for not thinking it was normal.

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (5, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619856)

Allow me to present...

The US Mobile Market in a Nutshell:
There are four nationwide networks, owned by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. (Various MVNOs and regional carriers as well, but they're not relevant to this discussion.)

Sprint and Verizon use CDMA, but do not use a UICC or other SIM-equivalent. They will not activate each other's phones. If you want to be on their network, you have to buy their phone. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM, but their 3G frequencies are different, so you can only get EDGE speeds on a phone not made for that network. If you want a modern phone, you have to buy one specifically for one carrier. Furthermore, only T-Mobile offers a discount if you bring your own phone. As a result, Americans are always under contract, because it makes no sense not to take the new phone every other year.

As a result of the decision long ago to have mobile phones get numbers in the area code in which they are physically located, rather than a separate one for mobiles only, the person with a mobile phone pays for incoming and outgoing phone calls. (There's no easy way to know for certain that a given phone number is mobile vs landline, and nearly all Americans have had unmetered local calls for ages.) Minutes are minutes, and it doesn't matter who called whom. While this is a different decision from the European model, there is some reasonable logic - the benefit of being mobile accrues to the person with the mobile phone, so they should pay for it.

All the systems include caller ID, so there's also an opportunity to reject the call and not be charged. Furthermore, all numbers in the country are considered the same - calling a landline, a mobile, a mobile on another network - all charged out of your minutes. VOIP providers follow this same model; you pay a per-minute fee for calls, but the fee is the same regardless of what kind of number you are calling. So the benefit is that American mobile service, while expensive and cumbersome due to the one-carrier-per-phone situation, works exactly as if you were at home when traveling. No roaming fees, even if you travel thousands of miles, as long as you're still in the US.

Following the same logic, we pay to send and receive SMS. This is unconscionable, since you can't decline an SMS from an unfamiliar number, but the FCC is a creature of its regulatees, and so it does nothing. If you do find out someone does not have an unlimited SMS plan, you could easily empty their prepaid account or give them a thousands-of-dollars bill on a postpaid, just by sending them texts all day and night. The only solution is to get an unlimited plan or tell your carrier to reject all SMS.

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (3, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620094)

I had tmobile on pre-paid. I got a few text spams. I called to complain it was going against my balance. they said there was nothing they could do! not block me on incoming or even disable the sms service.

I watched my service drain. then I threw the phone away and never renewed with tmobile.

I will never buy a tmobile phone again, either. that one simple thing turned me off that I now add them to my do-not-buy list. I think they were the only carrier at the time that refused to disable sms on prepaid, upon owner's request.

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620136)

there is some reasonable logic - the benefit of being mobile accrues to the person with the mobile phone, so they should pay for it.

You could also argue that the benefit in being able to contact someone who is away from their landline accrues to the one placing the call, and so they should pay for it.

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620384)

That's why both are charged.

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620830)

Yes, you could. The EU fell on one side of that decision, the US on the other. Both are reasonable, but since I was replying to a non-American, I figured that he already understood the logic behind his way.

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (2, Interesting)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620240)

my net10 phone (and i assume all tracphone systems) only charged sms when you read them

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (1)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619826)

In the US, we pay for each text message that we receive... Imagine if your ISP allowed only 100 emails per month, unsolicited email would not be tolerated.

Why do you pay for this "service"? By your own argument, wouldn't the world be a better place if we let the spammers make people pay for useless text messages? What a great way to tell people, "Hey! you're being exploited by a business that preys upon the ignorant."

Re:Block All Marketing Texts (2, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619872)

You don't have a choice. I'm not aware of any US carrier at all - certainly not the major ones - that offers free incoming texts on anything other than an unlimited-text plan.

Why would they do this? (5, Insightful)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619584)

Surely this action would remove their common carrier status? Now that they have demonstrated they have the capability to censor content, they can assume responsibility for other content that they allow through?

Also, for those saying it is not censorship because it is not the government....no. Just no.

Re:Why would they do this? (1, Insightful)

Xuranova (160813) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619704)

capability to censor content? That might be the end result but they have the companies phone number who is sending this. Telecoms have been able to block phone numbers for quite a while now.

Re:Why would they do this? (3, Interesting)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619784)

What is the possible relevance of your point?

This is blocking based on message content, not just blacklisting a number.

Re:Why would they do this? (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619730)

Looks like spam filtering to me.

Re:Why would they do this? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619820)

Also, for those saying it is not censorship because it is not the government....no. Just no.

That's what gives censorship its problematic character: the government is preventing you from expressing yourself. Private entities are under no obligation to allow you to use their resources for your own expression. This is not to say that blocking text messages on a whim isn't a problem, just that it's not censorship. We have other words in the language besides censorship to describe things we don't like.

Re:Why would they do this? (3, Informative)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619914)

Censorship is the result of something being censored. It does not matter if it is a government, Microsoft or a cell phone company doing the censoring. It is still censorship.

Who I origionally tried to reply to (0, Troll)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620180)

So are you saying any form of spam filtering is censorship?

Do you consider all spam filtering companies as censoring companies? Do you consider anti virus software as censorship software?

All of the examples I have given will restrict what you see. By your definition, that is censorship. Correct or no?

If you answer yes to all of these being censorship. Are you stating they should be illegal?

Re:Who I origionally tried to reply to (3, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620662)

So are you saying any form of spam filtering is censorship?

No, because I either have access to the "spam folder" where the messages tagged as spam go, or the filter is under my own control.

Do you consider anti virus software as censorship software?

No, because an anti-virus program is installed by me, and when it finds a virus it tells me what was blocked, why, and how to access the blocked content if I want to.

Re:Who I origionally tried to reply to (1)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620776)

Ok, so as long as you have a choice to accept or deny. It is not censorship. Works for me, thanks.

Re:Why would they do this? (2, Informative)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619930)

Websters does not have the word government anywhere in the definition of censorship or censor. Of course a private company can censor. Broadcast television does it all the time.

The only test for censorship in this case is: 'Did they block a message based ONLY on the content of the message?' If the answer is yes, then it is censorship. That doesn't make it illegal or wrong, it just makes it fit the definition.

Re:Why would they do this? (0, Troll)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620154)

So are you saying any form of spam filtering is censorship?

Do you consider all spam filtering companies as censoring companies? Do you consider anti virus software as censorship software?

All of the examples I have given will restrict what you see. By your definition, that is censorship. Correct or no?

If you answer yes to all of these being censorship. Are you stating they should be illegal?

Re:Why would they do this? (1)

Internal Modem (1281796) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620510)

Censorship is not illegal. What gave you that idea?

Re:Why would they do this? (1)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620810)

Fair question. I should have worded my question differently. I should have stated.
Do you find it acceptable for these types of censorship?

In a lower post, where I actually asked the question of the correct individual. They responded. The crutz of their answer was yes, it is acceptable. They are able to view the contents of the spam bucket and they are the installer of the anti virus.

Re:Why would they do this? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619986)

Not likely, the texts are advertising activities which are illegal under federal law, I doubt very much that they'll get into any trouble for refusing to pass on adverts for illegal activities. Especially when it can be filtered without human intervention.

Marijuana is not legal (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619906)

Marijuana may be "legal" in California and here in Massachusetts, as far as the state and commonwealth are concerned, but try dealing near a DEA agent even in those states.

It's against Federal law, and as soon as any of those text messages cross state lines, and T-Mobile is aware of it, they can get screwed for it. I don't think it's a matter of the provider seeking them out, but probablu in response to reports and dealing with the matter after being made aware of the issue so they are not accessories to a felony. Good for T-Mobile. :)

Now, whether or not Marijuana should be illegal is a different story. I am of the opinion that if someone wants to fry their brain on drugs (be it pot or crack or LSD or meth) let them - just have VERY harsh sentences for DUI (right now the laws are far too soft), and don't give financial assistance or "free"[sic] health care after they've lost everything including their sanity and physical health.

Re:Marijuana is not legal (3, Insightful)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619918)

as soon as any of those text messages cross state lines, and T-Mobile is aware of it, they can get screwed for it.

They can now. They couldn't before, as they were just a carrier.

Re:Marijuana is not legal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620032)

You do realize that these are just messages about legally available marijuna, not the actual substance itself, traveling through their switches and communications gear don't you?

Should common carriers be allowed to examine your text messages and decide what to block? Your email? Your voice communications?

Should we all be prohibited from talking or texting about things or activities which are illegal in some places but not necessarily where we live?

Re:Marijuana is not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620096)

but the federal law is unconstitutional

Don't Trust EZ Texting (5, Informative)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620068)

Run by Shane Neman, who also runs "Club Texting," both companies are known for sending out unsolicited text spam, which is illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (because the recipient has to pay to receive the message). When not avoiding disclosure of legal liabilities to their customers, they're quietly lobbying the FCC to get the same odious protections Congress gave junk faxers.

http://www.commlawblog.com/tags/club-texting/ [commlawblog.com]

EZ Texting makes sure to send their messages from obfuscated domains [godaddy.com] with "private" registration information [godaddy.com] (spammers apparently don't like being spammed, or being served lawsuits).

I doubt this is less about the content of the advertising and more about T-Mobile responding to customer complaints and attempting to cut off an unlawful advertiser who's trespassing on their networks. A spammer is a spammer is a spammer.

Re:Don't Trust EZ Texting (4, Insightful)

JDS13 (1236704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620398)

In that case, T-Mobile should have notified EZ Texting that the shutdown was because of complaints about unsolicited texts, which are a violation of their terms of service and of Federal law. I'm sure there have been complaints about EZ Texting - I'm a T-Mobile customer and have called them to complain about unsolicited texts. I've also filed 1088's with the FCC.

Blocking a spammer wouldn't create this lawsuit or publicity.

why can't there be free incoming and 1-800 like # (2, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620082)

why can't there be free incoming and 1-800 like numbers that are free to to text (they pay the costs) and 1-900 like ones where you don't pay the base rate + there own rate (you just pay there rate)

SMS regulations (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620258)

I recall another SMS gateway (again, used by many, many companies to send text messages) had one of its main shortcodes shut down by whatever group regulates SMS because one of its clients was abusing the service. That meant that all the other legitimate clients sharing that shortcode were also shut down.

Easy Fix (2, Insightful)

bobjr94 (1120555) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620928)

Let customers opt in/out of spam text blocking.
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