Government to crackdown on mobile phone companies

Mobile phones are a concern, the government is expected to make that official with tough regulations
Written by Will Knight, Contributor

In the wake of Thursday's, Stewart Report, the government is expected to impose strict regulations on mobile phone manufacturers, asking them not to advertise to children. Tough regulations on the building of transmitters is also expected, according to reports Friday.

Public health minister Yvette Cooper, told reporters Friday that she is "minded" to accept the Report's findings on the building of mobile phone transmitter masts, hinting that they may, in future, be regulated by planning procedures.

Although the Stewart Report found no scientific evidence of a health risk associated with mobile use, it recommended precautions.

Restrictions on the building of masts could especially impact those operators who have recently paid billions of pounds for government licences to supply third generation high-bandwidth mobile phones.

BT, an owner of one of these mobile licences says the report is welcome but it is concerned about regulating the building of masts. "BT has some concerns that full planning permission could be somewhat cumbersome," says a spokesman. "The government clearly needs to strike a balance." The spokesman, however, adds that press reports suggesting that licence owners are outraged by the report's findings are greatly exaggerated.

The Department of Health issued a statement Thursday outlining how it will proceed with the report's recommendations: "The Government accepts the recommended precautionary approach advised by the Stewart Group. The Government will be, therefore, taking forward the actions that follow in response to the report's specific recommendations."

According to a statement the government intends to advise parents on their children's use of mobile phones: "The Chief Medical Officer will be discussing with the Stewart Group how best to ensure that parents are aware of these recommendations...so that they are able to make informed choices about the use of mobile phones."

One of Europe's leading mobile telephone firms, Nokia says that it welcomes yesterday's report but hints that increased government regulation will have to be discussed. "Whatever the government wants us to do, we will take seriously and talk with them about," says a spokesman. "So far we're not sure what the importance is of yesterday's report. The really good thing is that it has started a broad discussion."

Nokia does not believe it targets children in its advertising campaigns. "In the UK, our advertisements have been about a lifestyle rather than children in particular," adds this spokesman.

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