IN 2004, the minister for communications, Dermot Ahern, spoke at the launch of the Irish Cellular Industry Association's 'Children and Mobile Phones – A Parent's Guide'.
During his speech, he dropped a bombshell: "To protect Irish children I think we need to go beyond the present degree of protection – I think we need a national register of 3G phones". In other words, 3G handsets would only be sold to over-18s.
For many of the mobile operators present, the news of such a register must have been the equivalent of getting a cocktail sausage stick shoved in their eyes.
The scare tactics worked – regulate yourselves or it'll be done for you.
Yesterday, that threat was answered. An agreement on protecting minors using mobile phones was signed in Brussels by all the leading mobile operators. It was brokered by the European Commission and hailed as "a good example of industry self-regulation".
Operators signed up to support:
- access control for adult content;
- awareness-raising campaigns for parents and children;
- classification of commercial content according to national standards of decency and appropriateness;
- the fight against illegal content on mobiles;
The deal is a sure sign that the convergence of mobile networks and the internet is about to get a speed boost.