Adult Mobile Operators Face Child Protection Challenges

Nov 25, 2011 8:00 AM PST

LOS ANGELES — As global lawmakers struggle to define the legal boundaries of cyberspace and child protection, a number of private entities are stepping up to help.

For example, Mobixell Networks and Commtouch have announced their partnership together in a new joint initiative supporting mobile operators worldwide in complying with the growing number of proposed web content regulations.

According to their respective companies, Mobixell Networks provides intelligent mobile Internet solutions that optimize data networks and maximize data profitability; while Commtouch safeguards leading security companies and service providers with cloud-based Internet security services.

The Mobixell Seamless Access Mobile Internet Gateway, coupled with Commtouch GlobalView URL Filtering, offers advanced content filtering capabilities for telecom operators seeking solutions for improving the security of mobile device users, ensuring compliance with content-based child protection legislation.

According to a release issued by the companies, national governments, including those in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia, are promoting legislation to protect children from pornography “and other unsuitable web content.”

“The ability for mobile device users, many of whom are minors, to freely access the web, has made this an especially critical issue for telecom operators,” states an initiative spokesperson. “If implemented, legislation would require operators to actively block undesirable content and make certain types of content available only if users opt-in to receive it.”

“However, compliance with such laws could be challenging for operators, since web pages and their content are constantly changing, and new sites are registered daily,” the spokesperson added. “In addition, some sites, particularly those with user-generated content (blogs, social networking sites, etc.), may contain a mixture of family-friendly and inappropriate content.”

The initiative says that its content categorization system enables telecom operators to manage complex content delivery policies, including offering a variety of opt-in user protection services, such as parental controls, real-time ratings and content verification.

“As the use of mobile devices to access the web increases, it is essential that mobile operators provide increased protection for their users from potentially harmful websites,” Mobixell VP Noam Green stated. “The Mobixell/Commtouch solution lets us offer our mobile operator customers an important service for their customers to counter these threats and to ensure that operators comply with pending web content legislation.”

Commtouch VP Ofer Tal says that the initiative’s technology provides the best possible protection for all mobile users, while ensuring that service providers are able to comply with new protection laws that could put them at substantial legal risk.

“The profusion of mobile devices and Smartphones among children has increased the ease at which they have access to unsuitable content on the web,” Tal stated. “Optional parental control solutions can be installed on mobile devices, but these would not absolve operators of responsibility when these new regulations go into effect.”

The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) maintains its Best Practices and Code of Ethics for various adult industry segments, including mobile site operators and app developers.

“With a recent UNICEF Ireland report revealing that 54 percent of teenagers admit to viewing adult-oriented content online, including via mobile devices, the problem of minors gaining unauthorized access to adult materials is a growing cause for concern,” ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning told XBIZ. “ASACP takes this tragic problem seriously and provides support to legitimate adult entertainment companies seeking to protect themselves by protecting children.”

The ASACP-backed Restricted To Adults (RTA) website label allows equipped sites to be better indexed by content classification and filtering systems, demonstrating the adult entertainment industry’s proactive approach to online and mobile child protection.

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