When is a telco a media company?
US operator T-Mobile is being sued by a bulk SMS firm EZ Texting for blocking its short-code text service for customers of a medical marijuana clinic.
T-Mobile’s defense is that it has the right to reject messages in its SMS marketing channel. Specifically, it argues that it has the “discretion to require pre-approval for any short-code marketing campaigns” in order to protect itself from “potentially illegal, fraudulent, or offensive marketing campaigns.”
In other words, it claims the same rights as a TV network or newspaper, who are free to block ads on the same grounds.
Fair enough –bulk SMS is a marketing communications channel -, but unlike TV or print ads, customers have chosen to receive these messages.
And while T-Mobile may be happy to be treated as a media company in this context, you can be certain it won’t be shy about putting on its telecom hat when the time suits.
Next time it faces a piracy suit from a music label it will claim that its role is to deliver bits of all kinds, regardless of their contents.
The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the US. As in a lot of other areas, it carries no legal weight in the rest of the world but it may set certain kinds of behaviors.
Meanwhile, in its latest assist in the never-ending fight against censorship, Google has mapped out the requests it has received from governments to remove material, or for information about users.
The map contains no information from China, where such data is defined as a state secret, but it does demonstrate that US authorities are vigilant in their scrutiny of online data.
The US made far and away the largest number of requests for information in the first six months of the year – 4,287, followed by Brazil with 2,435.
Brazil made the most requests for removal of data – 398 – with the US in second place, 128. By contrast Canada made no requests for information and fewer than ten demands for removal.
The one clear trend is that the level of government concern is rising. Both data sets increased for almost every country mentioned in the past six months.