Agreement between operators protects young people in the use of mobile phones

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Until February next year, the main European mobile operators undertake to develop self-regulation codes that protect children using mobile phones. The agreement that provides for this measure was signed today in Brussels, with the mediation of the European Commission, and the Portuguese operators are connected by international partners – in the case of Vodafone with the parent company and Optimus eventually with Orange.

The «European framework agreement for the safer use of mobile phones by adolescents and children» is available on the GSM Association website and suggests in response to the shortcomings identified in a public consultation by the Commission on safer use of mobile phones, which took place during the year past.

In this analysis, several risks were identified for young people related to the use of mobile phones, including persecution, solicitation for the purpose of sexual abuse, access to illegal and harmful pornographic and violent content and risks of violation of privacy. most of these risks stem mainly from the use of cameras and location services.

Operators agree to develop self-regulatory standards, sharing with parents, educators and public authorities the responsibility for the safe use of mobile phones. Among the commitments assumed, it is defined that the control of access to adult content will be guaranteed, the classification of commercial content according to national standards in terms of decency and adequacy and the fight against illegal content on mobile phones.

Operators are also committed to developing awareness actions with parents and children on these matters.

Signatories to the agreement include operators and content companies such as Bouygues Telecom, Cosmote, Debitel AG, Deutsche Telekom Group, Go Mobile, Hutchison 3G Europe, Jamba! GmbH, Mobile Entertainment Forum, Orange Group, Royal KPN, SFR, Telecom Italia, Telefonica Moviles, Telenor, TeliaSonera and Vodafone Limited.

Viviane Reding, Commissioner responsible for Telecommunications and Media, was one of the promoters of the initiative and says that this agreement represents an important step forward in the safety of children. the European Commission will monitor the implementation of the codes that operators must develop and evaluate their effectiveness one year after their implementation, in February 2009.

Self-regulation is seen as an adequate way to ensure the protection of children when using mobile phones, but it is not yet implemented in all EU Member States. The Commission also adds that national and Community public authorities will have to carefully monitor the evolution of this process and regularly assess the effectiveness of self-regulation to determine whether public intervention is justified.

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