UK Mobile operators launch adult verification scheme
By paul
The six biggest UK mobile network operators are launching a joint scheme to block access to mobile gambling, porn and unmoderated chat rooms on 3G phones to minors.

Adult sites such as gambling and pornography will be classified as '18' for the new 3G 'third generation' mobile handsets.

The self-regulation scheme was negotiated by network operators Orange, O2, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and 3, and it is the first time such a censorship scheme has been tried on the Internet, having previously been used on music, films and video games.

The system will also be used in an attempt to counter the threat of paedophiles in unmoderated chat rooms.

Parents or guardians who buy 3G phones for minors will be able to block adult content from the phones, and mobile phone retailers will have to verify customersí ages.

Anti-child porn charities are in favour of the move, and have called for the existing internet industry to enact similar controls on 'fixed' access through computers.

3G handsets have increased multimedia internet capabilities, such as colour screens, video and picture messaging and internet browsers, and gambling is seen as a lucrative growth segment for the new technology.

Project co-ordinator Hamish MacLeod said: 'The industry is aware of parental concerns and, through this code, addresses those concerns in a responsible and timely manner.'

Internet consultant for childrenís charity NCH, John Carr, said: 'These new measures are a great step forward for the mobile phone industry and we very much welcome them.

'The new code is going to make many people ask why, if the mobile people can do it, the fixed internet people canít. We are calling on them to take this forward as a matter of urgency.

'But the devil is, however, in the detail. Childrenís charities are anxious to see how the code will be implemented and its effects monitored and reviewed.'

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