Mobile operators update child protection content code after formal review

The UK’s mobile operators have updated The UK Code of Practice for the self regulation of new forms of content on mobile, having conducted a formal review.

The review took account of inputs from the Byron Review, an independent review by Ofcom in 2008, an assessment conducted by PWC in 2009 of the UK Code’s compliance with the European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Children and Young Teenagers, and a public consultation conducted on behalf of the mobile operators by the Mobile Broadband Group. It also took account of the direct experience that operators have had since the Code came into force five years ago.

The Code’s main features, designed to protect young children from being exposed to inappropriate content on mobile handsets, require that 18 rated commercial content be placed behind access controls and that mobile operators offer filtering for Internet browsing from handsets.

The overall conclusion of the review is that the Code has been successful in protecting minors from being exposed to inapproprite content on a mobile device and that the protections in place remain fit for purpose for the foreseeable future. The Code has been amended to bring it in line with the European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Children and Young Teenagers by, for example, specifically referencing the Internet Watch Foundation as the UK hotline for receiving reports from the public about potentially illegal content.

There will also be greater transparency around the operation of the Independent Mobile Classification Body. Hamish MacLeod, chair of the Mobile Broadband Group, commented: “This has been a thorough review, taking inputs from a wide range of sources. We are pleased that the Code is standing the test of time and continuing to provide protection for younger customers. In a dynamic market, though, it is necessary to continue to be vigilant and the mobile operators remain fully committed to effective self regulation in this area.”