Phone News

 2008



11th December   

Underworld Nutters...


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Victim politics and a call to ban Underworld, an iPhone game
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Underworld iPhone gameThe mother of a young woman whose life was wrecked by heroin has called for a new iPhone drug-dealing game to be banned.

Underworld , which will be available to download on the Apple phone later this month, allows players to peddle virtual narcotics in real-world locations.

The free game, previously called Drug Lords but renamed in a bid to get it past Apple's censors, has been branded outrageous by Thelma Pickard whose daughter Amy has been in a seven-year coma since experimenting with heroin at the age of 17.

Leading drugs charities have also condemned the game, saying it trivialises the harm caused by Britain's illegal drugs trade.

Thelma said: My daughter's life has been ruined by drugs. If this game is allowed to come out, impressionable kids will play it and Amy's mistake will be repeated over and over again. Youngsters like Amy are exactly the people who download and play games like this on their mobiles. I just want to help other families avoid the nightmare that's wrecked mine.

 

19th October   

Phone Censor Resigns...


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Premium rates for successor?
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PhonePayPlus logo George Kidd has resigned from his post as chief executive of UK premium rate telephony regulator PhonepayPlus, having served for eight years.

The body formerly known as Icstis has confirmed that its Director of Policy and Innovation Paul Whiteing will take over the post until a successor is found.

Phonepayplus says the position will be advertised nationally and will be open to external and internal candidates, with a final decision being made by a panel comprising the Chairman of the PhonepayPlus Board, an independent assessor and a representative of UK regulator Ofcom.

 

26th September   

Update: Mobile Phones Turn Minds into Swiss Cheese...


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Swiss parliament votes to ban porn from mobile phones
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Switzerland flag More than a year ago the Swiss State Council voted 25-4 to broaden its porn ban to mobile phones, making the sale of adult material on portable devices illegal.

The decision from the Senate came in light of a series of gang rapes involving minors. The Justice Minister at the time, Christoph Blocher, questioned the need for a blanket ban and the House of Representatives were forced to vote on the issue.

Last week, the House of Representatives finally approved motions banning the distribution of pornographic or violent material on cell phones, according to SwissInfo.ch. The chamber voted in support of the plan despite recommendations from the government to deny the motion.

With the motion on pornography passing the Senate, it is expected they will jump on the House's bandwagon to ban violence as well.

 

15th September   

Offsite: iSpy...

iPhone leaves evidence trail for forensics
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iPhone iPhone hacker and data-forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski explained that the popular handset snaps a screenshot of your most recent action -- regardless of whether it's sending a text message, e-mailing or browsing a web page -- in order to cache it. This is purely for aesthetic purposes: When an iPhone user taps the Home button, the window of the application you have open shrinks and disappears. In order to create that shrinking effect, the iPhone snaps a screenshot, Zdziarski said.

The phone presumably deletes the image after you close the application. But anyone who understands data is aware that in most cases, deletion does not permanently remove files from a storage device. Therefore, forensics experts have used this security flaw to gather evidence.

And though the handset only snaps screenshots when users press the Home button, Zdziarski said this is only one way forensics experts collect evidence. Other methods include taking data from the iPhone's keyboard cache, Safari cache, Google Maps lookups and so on. Experts and hackers can also recover deleted photos or e-mails from months ago.

See article from blog.wired.com

 

13th August   

Mobile Kids...

Ofcom review regulation of mobile phone content
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Ofcom logo Ofcom have published a report: UK code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles:

Mobile phone use is widespread among children and 7% of 8-17 year olds access the internet via a mobile.

The UK code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles provides a series of undertakings regarding young people’s access to, and the classification of, mobile commercial content. The Code was formally published in January 2004 and the resulting Classification Framework (“the Framework”) was published in February 2005. All major UK mobile phone operators subscribe to and support the Code and the Framework which act as self-regulatory instruments.

Audio-visual content available on mobiles arises from two sources. Some content is provided directly by the operator or a contracted third party (and referred to in the Code as ‘commercial content’). This content is under the mobile operator’s control, enforced by contractual arrangements with the content creator/supplier. The other source of content available on mobile phones is from the internet. Internet-based content is outside the control of the mobile operator.

This Review of the Code was achieved with the support of the Home Office and the Children's Charities' Coalition for Internet Safety (CHIS).

Overall, we find the Code to be effective in restricting young people’s access to inappropriate content and a good example of industry self-regulation. Based on interviews with operators and stakeholders, we believe that the Code and Framework are understood and readily adopted by all concerned.

We also note that the mobile industry has made significant investment in the development and implementation of content controls and has taken significant steps to enforce compliance, over and above the requirements set out in the Code. The mobile operators have established a process whereby an initial breach of the Code by a commercial content provider results in a warning (yellow card), and any subsequent breach of the Code can result in a sanction (red card). Repeated failure to comply with the Code may lead to termination of future business. The yellow/red card scheme is viewed both by the mobile operators and the content suppliers as a highly effective compliance mechanism.

We find that the availability of consumer information about how to restrict access to 18-rated material is generally poor – only 15% of adults who use a mobile and who have a child in their household are aware of age verification systems. We therefore recommend that mobile operators redouble their efforts to ensure that the information supplied by retailers, customer services and websites is easy to understand and accessible.

The Content Classification Framework is provided on behalf of the mobile phone industry by the Independent Mobile Classification Body (IMCB), a subsidiary limited company of the premium rate phone regulator PhonepayPlus. The IMCB has to date received no in-remit complaints from members of the public about any content of a nature encompassed by the Code, which has been accessed via a mobile phone. However, the basis for complaining is that consumers, in the first instance, must report their concern to their contracted mobile operator. Only where there is no satisfactory resolution to the complaint is the customer then referred to the IMCB by the mobile operator’s customer services. The IMCB sees itself as primarily an industry-facing body and does not promote awareness of its existence or its functions to the public (other than through its website), nor does it advertise its complaints function to members of the public.

The current arrangements block access to 18-rated material to non-age-verified customers. With increasing numbers of younger children having access to mobiles capable of accessing AV content, mobile operators may need to consider if a binary system at 18 provides sufficient protection from inappropriate content for younger users, or whether a more granular system should be considered.

 

11th August   

iPhone Applications Slashed...

Apple withdraws application featuring a knife
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iPhone Apple has come under fire for allowing the sale of a supposedly tasteless knife game for its iPhone.

The Slasher application brought up the picture of a deadly looking blade on the user's handset and played the music from cult thriller Psycho when the owner mimicked a stabbing motion.

It was selling for 59p in the entertainment section of Apple's iPhone application store.

The programme, which was made by an outside firm, has now been withdrawn, but Apple has not explained how it came to be there in the first place.

Slasher was launched at a time when concern about knife-crime has hit an all time high following dozens of high-profile deaths on the streets of the UK.

 

27th July   

Mobile Harmony...

Harmony adult scenes available for mobile devices
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Harmony Adult producer Harmony Films is making its scenes available on mobile devices throughout the UK.

Harmony Films, in association with Vertigo 3G, brings together three of its titles — Young Harlots: The Governess, Roxy Jezel's Fuck Me , and Slam It! Double Penetration — for £5. The content is available through all UK mobile network operators and can be ordered by texting HARMONY to 89169. The company plans to eventually make all its movies available for viewing through the service.

 

22nd June   

Time for iPhone Porn...

American adult sites looking to market to iPhone users
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iPhone While Americans have been slow to jump on the mobile bandwagon when it comes to porn, the speed and improvements associated with the newest version of Apple's iPhone could help change that.

According to an article in Time magazine: Leading porn purveyors see the iPhone as a dream come true. Its relatively ample screen size, speedy Web access and ease of use are just part of it.

Farley Cahen, AVN Media Network's vice president of business development said: A huge portion of the $13 billion adult market has been reliant on physical distribution. That business model is shifting to downloadable and streaming content.

Another article in the magazine features input from Vivid's Steven Hirsch and Penthouse Media Group's Marc Bell, who discuss their companies' efforts to create more mobile-friendly content. Hirsch said Vivid plans to launch a "super-site" this summer in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of the new iPhone, while Bell said his company is planning a whole new level of interactivity.

Ali Joone of Digital Playground said the company plans to launch a portal that will adjust content to the iPhone's browser, and Pink Visual also will launch a new portal, having already attracted 3,000 new daily visitors with its first iPhone site.

 

11th May   

Phone Line to God Silenced...

Ringtone 'music' banned in part of Pakistan
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Pakistan flagIslamic militants in Pakistan's tribal areas, which border Afghanistan have issued a decree banning music from mobile phone ringtones and vehicles in tribal areas of the country. A spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Maulana Faqir Mohammed said, the they would not allow commuters to play music in their cars or use musical ringtones on mobile phones.

He warned that offenders would be punished according to Shariah lynch mob law.

This is not the first time that Taliban leaders have tried to clamp down on music in their areas - and a wave of attacks on mobile phone stores in North Waziristan was carried out last October to stop them selling music capable phones.

The shop-owners said at the time that they had received several letters, asking them not to sell mobile phones pre-loaded with 'musical' ring tones. Many retailers had started offering phones pre-loaded with 'jihadi' ringtones, but this did not seem enough to appease the militants.

 

12th February   

Mobile TV Trial...

100 channels of mobile TV
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Orange logo T-Mobile and Orange are to run a commercial trial in west London of a new mobile TV technology which could allow handset users to tune in to up to 100 channels.

The technology, TDTV, has been developed by US-based NextWave Wireless and could provide a cheaper and more efficient way to get broadcast TV on to mobile phones. The trial, due to start in late summer, will see several thousand Londoners given either a new handset or a wireless receiver, no bigger than a matchbox, which will transfer the channels to their mobile phones.

The six-month test will see Orange and T-Mobile share their masts in London and install equipment that will allow them to broadcast 24 high-quality TV channels including several from the BBC and BSkyB, and 10 digital radio stations.

TDTV uses a slice of the 3G spectrum which Britain's five networks spent £22.5bn buying eight years ago and which has so far lain dormant. As a result, TDTV works with the phone companies' systems, making it easy to bill customers.

TDTV is more efficient and has more capacity for channels than other mobile TV solutions. Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and 3 are all offering mobile TV through their 3G networks but they suffer from congestion if more than a handful of customers use the service in the same place. TDTV uses a different part of the 3G spectrum and many more users can watch TV simultaneously.

 

28th January   

Home Office Hang Ups...

Mobile phone voluntary code on age restrictions to be reviewed
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Ofcom logo A scheme to prevent children accessing pornography, gambling and other adult services on the latest mobile phones is to be reviewed by the telecoms regulator.

The inquiry has been triggered by complaints from charities about the project, which was launched at the request of the Home Office. It could lead to the voluntary code being replaced with Ofcom regulation.

Mobile phone networks including Orange, O2 and Vodafone signed up in 2004 to a code that is aimed at protecting children using “next generation” 3G phones. Under the code, the phone companies agreed to offer parents who bought the 3G models for their children the ability to install a filter, which would block access to unsuitable internet content such as adult chatrooms.

A classification system for content - similar to that used in cinemas - was also introduced, with unsuitable material to be labelled “18”. The phone companies also agreed to work with law enforcement agencies on the reporting of potentially illegal material.

However, children's charities fear that some of the mobile operators have been lax about marketing and getting to grips with the scheme.

John Carr, secretary of the Children's Charities' Coalition for Internet Safety (CHIS), an umbrella group that includes NCH, Barnardos and The Children's Society, said: My guess is that not all the networks are doing equally well. We have done our own informal studies in some mobile phone shops, where some shop assistants do no know elementary stuff about internet safety.

A spokesman for Ofcom said: To ensure that children continue to receive appropriate protection, Ofcom is working with the CHIS and the mobile operators to review the voluntary code of conduct for mobile content. A report is expected in the summer.