News

FCC Asks Cell Industry to Combat Porn

2/15/2005 9:16 AM Eastern

A federal agency is asking the cellular-phone industry to help parents block their children’s access to pornographic services available on mobile devices.

The request came Tuesday in a letter from the Federal Communications Commission to Steve Largent, president of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, the main trade group for the $95 billion U.S. mobile-phone industry.

“With adult content available from a myriad of sources, now more than ever, it is important for carriers, content providers and parents to know what is being done by industry to prevent access to adult content by minors, as well as what they can do to protect their children,” said John Muleta, chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

In a two-page letter, Muleta asked the CTIA to inform parents about the adult services to which children can obtain access and about how to program handsets so that adult content can’t be downloaded or reached over pay-per-call services.

“I ask you to help educate parents about their options with regard to content access by minors,” he said.

Pornographic photos and ring tones are commercially available to the country’s 175 million cell-phone users. According to the Boston Herald, porn queen Jenna Jameson charges $2.50 to download a smutty ring tone and $2.99 for a naked photo.

CTIA spokesman Joe Farren said the industry recently created a “mobile-content action team,” charged with creating a ratings system designed to allow parents to filter inappropriate content. The team held its first meeting in January.

“We want to make sure that this content is appropriately rated,” Farren said. “We are committed to staying ahead of this issue.”

Muleta indicated that the CTIA should consider adopting a code of conduct to prevent indiscriminate cell-phone distribution of porn services to which children might have ready access.

“Through responsible action on the part of wireless carriers and content providers, this important social goal can be achieved without government intervention and without interference to the provision of content to adults,” Muleta said.

Lastly, Muleta urged the CTIA to look at anti-porn efforts in foreign countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel.

“This issue is not confined to our borders, and we should be mindful that other parts of the international telecommunications industry are facing similar circumstances,” he said.

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