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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Inappropriate content

Recently, mobile Internet providers (mine is o2, here's some of their thoughts here) have been blocking access to particular websites deemed suitable only for the over 18s. Needless to say, regulators are being blamed. However the lack of consultation, prior warning and indeed complete randomness of sites that are banned (I can get IC, but can't search for latex tentacle dresses) is entirely the bag of the service providers, not their regulators. Also, the regulator in question is funded by the mobile companies, so we can put the problem squarely back at their door. You broke it, you bought it, o2.

The reason for this? Someone wanted to think of the children. It seems that parents are getting contract phones for their children, so rather than setting up parental controls on those phones, all phones need parental controls. Now, aside from the fact that this is rather like me buying a dog and expecting everyone else to walk it, as an argument it seems a little like, well, bullshit.

There's a good article here on bitterwallet.com which touches on some of the problems caused by this decision. The key one being that the remit of the IMCB means there is absolutely no way of ensuring that parental controls could actually stop children from seeing any "inappropriate content".

Let's also take a moment to consider the phrase "inappropriate content". It is almost certain that you and I are thinking about different things and indeed there is a general lack of any consistency in terns of what is and isn't appropriate, even before I lament the grammatical failure of the phrase (if I'm googling porn, and get porn, I'd consider that pretty appropriate).

Sadly, a lot of the sites that are blocked are educational, specifically sex education. Exactly the sorts of sites that young people need access to. There's a good article here on the problem with how mobile censorship (doesn't) work and how it often restricts access to useful areas (like sex education) but allows "family friendly" boobs-out images, such as appear in The Sun. This means that not only is this censorship not working, it is actively working against that which it purports to do: look after children.

So, if you have a spare few minutes today, I'd suggest you shout at your mobile phone company. Then email them.

3 comments:

Liz the Land Girl said...

I'm SO GLAD you've written about this! I was trying to get on a comic site, (questionable content: but it's really not not not bad) and was told that I needed to prove I was over 18. (I'm with O2 as well). Oh, and a quick and easy way was to use my credit card, for a small fee.
I then ranted to my friend. A lot. I assumed it was to do with internet police trying to protect little wee children..
and I complete agree with you.
First of all, the question is: who owns the phone...surely you need to be 18 to have a phone contract. Yes, there is pay as you go so ok...but when you sign a contract the age should be noted and appropriate child locking should occur. (And if you are giving your child a phone then you have to take responsibility for how they use it).
Secondly, as you said, it is often the most important sites that are blocked. This is what frustrates me the most...this idiotic and outdated view of sex and teaching about sex.
Images of Miley Cyrus and even Willow Smith looking far older than they are are allowed in general magazine and encouraged, but any intellectual approach to sex ed is treated with suspicion.
While I appreciate the idea behind children being protected from sites that they may not be emotionally ready for is a good thing, the fact that the mobile companies are the ones to do it when they have no authority on the subject makes me mad.
And the sneaky way it was done makes me even more mad.
thank you for writing about this and I hope enough people make some noise. I'm off to link your article and to shout at 02.

Liz the Land Girl said...

I'm SO GLAD you've written about this! I was trying to get on a comic site, (questionable content: but it's really not not not bad) and was told that I needed to prove I was over 18. (I'm with O2 as well). Oh, and a quick and easy way was to use my credit card, for a small fee.
I then ranted to my friend. A lot. I assumed it was to do with internet police trying to protect little wee children..
and I complete agree with you.
First of all, the question is: who owns the phone...surely you need to be 18 to have a phone contract. Yes, there is pay as you go so ok...but when you sign a contract the age should be noted and appropriate child locking should occur. (And if you are giving your child a phone then you have to take responsibility for how they use it).
Secondly, as you said, it is often the most important sites that are blocked. This is what frustrates me the most...this idiotic and outdated view of sex and teaching about sex.
Images of Miley Cyrus and even Willow Smith looking far older than they are are allowed in general magazine and encouraged, but any intellectual approach to sex ed is treated with suspicion.
While I appreciate the idea behind children being protected from sites that they may not be emotionally ready for is a good thing, the fact that the mobile companies are the ones to do it when they have no authority on the subject makes me mad.
And the sneaky way it was done makes me even more mad.
thank you for writing about this and I hope enough people make some noise. I'm off to link your article and to shout at 02.

DbSurfeit said...

Whilst I can happily browse FetLife or PMSleaze from my mobile, several of my favourite humour sites (none of which contain pornographic content) are blocked.

But not just blocked! Trying to access them, charmingly, diverts you to 3's own pornographic content network. There is a remarkable moment of cognitive dissonance when, seeking some light humour, I am instead presented with hardcore porn. On the presumption that I am a child, and need protection.