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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 13:06 GMT
Mobile firms to block child porn
Victim of child abuse (posed by model)
The firms hope to stem the growth of online child sex content
Mobile firms from across the world have launched a new alliance which aims to block paedophiles using phones to send or receive child sexual abuse images.

The GSMA, the global association for mobile firms, has launched the Mobile Alliance, and says it is vital to act as web access via phones improves.

Among planned measures will be a block on mobile phone access to websites which host abusive content.

There will also be hotlines to report services carrying inappropriate images.

Swift removal

The Alliance has been founded by the GSMA, Hutchison 3G Europe, mobilkom austria, Orange FT Group, Telecom Italia, Telefonica/02, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, T-Mobile Group, Vodafone Group and dotMobi.

It says its primary aim is "to create significant barriers to the misuse of mobile networks and services for hosting, accessing, or profiting from child sexual abuse content".

The Alliance says that, while the vast majority of child sexual abuse content is accessed through conventional internet connections, safeguards need to be in place as broadband networks being rolled out by phone firms could lead to similar misuse by paedophiles.

Among the measures is a commitment by members of the Alliance that they will implement "Notice and Take Down" procedures that will enable the swift removal of any child sexual abuse content which they are notified about on their own services.

It's an offence to take, or permit to be taken or to make, any indecent photograph of a child
It's also an offence to distribute or show such indecent photographs

"As our industry rolls out mobile broadband networks that provide quick and easy access to multimedia Web sites, we must put safeguards in place to obstruct criminals looking to use mobile services as a means of accessing or hosting pictures and videos of children being sexually-abused," said Craig Ehrlich, GSMA chairman.

"We call on governments across the world to support this initiative by providing the necessary legal clarity to ensure that mobile operators can act effectively against child sexual abuse content and to step up international enforcement against known sources."

The initiative was welcomed by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

Her role encompasses regulations on e-communication in Europe and she said: "This gives a very clear signal that the mobile industry is committed to making the Mobile Internet a safer place for children."

British success

Arun Sarin, chief executive of Vodafone, said the initiative was one of a number of measures Vodafone was implementing to combat misuse of its network. "Protecting young people wherever they are is of paramount importance to Vodafone," he said.

Joachim Horn of T-Mobile pledged that his company would "continue to be at the industry's forefront to maintain a high level of child safety," while Orange's Olaf Swantee said it was important for all telecoms firms to "share key learnings" to address the issue.

Sarah Robertson, spokeswoman for The Internet Watch Foundation, said the move would back up work already done in Britain, where she said the watchdog "already had an excellent working relationship" with all the major mobile phone providers.

"We're in the business of helping to block access to sites which carry these images. We welcome the support of the GSMA and look forward to establishing any relevant relationships with international providers."

She predicted use of the "Notice And Take Down" procedures would prove vital, saying that it had helped to police online content in the UK, with figures showing that the proportion of the world's child sex sites that are hosted in the UK had been cut from 18% to 1% over a six-year period.

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