Mobile phone loophole that lets children access porn

Just as the industry says, FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND!



Mobile phone loophole that lets children access porn

08:11am 2nd February 2006

Loophole: Children can access porn for as little as £1.50

Children can gain access to internet porn via their mobile phones, a consumer grop warned today.

A loophole in phone safeguards lets youngsters obtain codes for adult websites by paying for them using premium rate text messages.

Researchers for Which? magazine got codes for eight porn sites using an O2 phone registered to a 15-year-old girl.

The phone company's filter system blocked adult material being sent directly to the handset - but still let through access codes to websites showing hardcore sex films, the consumer group said.

It cost £1.50 to pay for the codes which gave access to internet porn sites.

Although the phone company's filter system blocked the adult sites, young viewers could view by entering the codes into a computer, Which? warned.

The consumer group is concerned about the loophole which allows under 18s access to pay-per-view porn sites by paying by text rather than credit card.

Which? magazine editor Malcolm Coles said: "At the moment there's nothing to stop children getting hold of hardcore pornography through their mobile phone. It's easy to access and costs less than a couple of quid.


"There are supposed to be safeguards to stop this sort of thing, but they're obviously ineffective. This loophole needs to be closed as soon as possible."

The number of pay-per-view internet sites accepting payment by premium rate text messages has increased over the past few years, according to Which?

Those accessed by the consumer group's researchers boasted that users could remain anonymous because payment was by text.

An O2 spokesman said some adult websites did accept payment via mobile phones.

"While it's the responsibility of those websites to prevent under 18s from viewing the content on a computer, we do not want our mobiles to be used as a payment mechanism without age verification," he said.

"We are in the process of updating the agreements in place with companies that provide mobile content over our network.

"This update will include a requirement for third parties who provide 'computer viewable' adult content, to age verify any customers who choose to pay for it using their mobile phone."

The spokesman said O2 took the risk to children "very seriously", adding: "We have an age verification process for any commercial content that can be viewed on a mobile phone. We also offer a parental control on all of our mobiles that can be activated from the phone."

The premium rate phone and text message regulator Icstis said mobile phone companies and internet content providers were responsible for carrying out age verification checks.

Spokesman Rob Dwight said: "Obviously this is a loophole. Kids can access adult content on their PC screens and be billed via their mobile phones. The situation shouldn't be allowed to continue."

He added: "We are working with the mobile phone networks to look at how this loophole can be blocked."



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