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Mobile safety guidelines released

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.
Written by Alex Kidman, Contributor on
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.

"Although most 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 potential dangers.

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 November.

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