The Australian Communications and Media
Authority has today released its draft guidelines for both mobile
service and mobile content providers who supply chat-room style
services for mobile phones.
The guidelines, available on the ACMA Web site, outline the main risks associated with
youngsters coming into contact with adults using mobile services,
as well as a framework of safety measures that the ACMA would
like to see implemented to counter these risks.
people in mobile chat rooms are friendly and polite, some can be
unfriendly and rude and a small number are exploitative and
predatory. Paedophiles have been known to use chat rooms to
initiate contact with children" said Lyn Maddock, acting ACMA
chair, on the ACMA Web site.
While the guidelines note that generally undesirable behaviour
such as bullying, verbal abuse and harassment are possible via
the use of mobile chat rooms, the main focus of the preventative
guidelines the ACMA is suggesting are focused around illegal
activities such as the dissemination of child pornography and the
contacting of children by paedophiles. Mobile chat rooms are a
particular problem for parents wishing to control their
children's online activities, as unlike chat rooms accessed from
a PC, the activities of a child on a mobile are extremely
difficult for parents to monitor.
Mobile chatrooms have in the
past been shut down by service providers
after it was
realised that they may have been used by paedophiles as stalking
grounds for young children. The guidelines are intended to
provide a framework with suggestions that providers should be
either constantly monitoring chat rooms or preventing minors from
gaining access to them, as well as educating minors on the
Mobile operators will be obliged to either follow the
guidelines in the final safety notice or implement similar
measures within 60 days of the publication of the final notice.
ACMA representatives told ZDNet Australia that it was
expected that the final notice would be published early in the
new year. Interested parties can comment on the ACMA's draft
safety measures notice via the ACMA Web Site. Submissions close on 25