Apple appears to be excluding some applications from its App Store in China. The missing applications include references to the Dalai Lama and Rebiya Kadeer, and is likely a requirement imposed on Apple by the Chinese government, according to PC
The blocked apps all relate to exiled spiritual leaders.
Apple isn't the first technology company to censor online content to comply with China laws. Google -- the company with the do no evil business model -- already blocks pornographic and many politically-related search results in China.
According to the Internet search company, it must comply with China's laws and regulations to offer its services in the country.
The growing popularity of the iPhone in Korea may necessitate the rating of App Store game offerings by government censors.
The Korean Herald notes that currently all games in Korea must be approved by the country's Game Rating Board. In deference to this, the Korean version of the App Store currently does not offer a game category at all, but concern remains over
games that could be downloaded from the App Store's entertainment category or from the App Store of other countries.
Korea's Game Rating Board ratings consist of four categories: All (for everyone) 12-year +, 15-year+ and 18+
You can drink a virtual beer on Apple's iPhone through the company's wildly popular App Store, but the same app has been rejected for distribution on Microsoft's answer - Marketplace - because of a self-imposed morals-based content
Microsoft mobile developer marketing director for the Asia Pacific region, Chris Chin, says his company's policy whilst not necessarily family friendly, it is at least acceptable to the public .
These policies have evolved, they're not quite 'family friendly', more just acceptable to the general public, he says, citing the example of two games. Video Poker, which is on Marketplace but not necessarily family friendly although
considered acceptable to the general public. As opposed to the mobile version of the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto - which is not found in Marketplace. I don't know if that would be accepted but I think probably not, Chin says.
And what about the innocuous virtual iBeer app? Well. that fell foul of Microsoft's rules on any content deemed to encourage the excessive consumption of alcohol! As for anything remotely sexually titillating, you won't find it anywhere on
Microsoft Marketplace. According to the content guidelines, material considered borderline pornography is banned outright.
Chris Chin says, On iTunes, soft porn ranks highly, Victoria's Secret for example and others. There are some, which are very direct, such as Beautiful Boobs. You will never find them on Microsoft Marketplace, under the current content
The trouble with this sort of moralising is of course that users, who after alll pay for services they wish to avail themselves of, are denied access to perfectly legal content because some faceless and unaccountable corporate puritan on a
mission to impose censorship decides unilaterally to bar it.
Where there is no app for that on the iPhone, there now is for porn on the competing Android mobile operating system.
A Seattle-based company named MiKandi (pronounced my candy ) has released an app store specifically geared towards porn. The application attempts to create a red light district for adult Android apps allowing adult content providers to set
up shop within a MiKandi app.
In June 2009 the iPhone app called Hottest Girls snuck by Apple's notoriously fickle approval process and saw the light of day . . . for a very brief period of time before Apple banned it.
[MiKandi LLC] wanted to find a niche that was not currently being served and adult applications were at the top of the list, Jennifer McEwen, one of the company's founders, told Good Gear Guide. There are no other adult app stores out
there to meet this need of users and developers. So we entered the market with MiKandi to provide value to the mobile application ecosystem.
The developer kit is currently invite-only, but MiKandi plans on an e-mail marketing campaign to get the word out. MiKandi representatives say it has plans to port its app to BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices as well as Java-compatible mobile
phones in early 2010.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) – which assigns age and content ratings for computer and video games – has developed a free iPhone app giving parents instant, on-the-spot access to its new rating summaries, right at the store when
making decisions about which games to give as gifts.
To educate parents about ratings, rating summaries and the new rating search app, ESRB developed a new series of TV and radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) ads that will begin airing nationwide in the coming days. Major video game retailers
will also air the PSAs in their stores throughout the coming year.
Rating summaries, which are provided by ESRB but are not displayed on game boxes as are the ESRB ratings and content descriptors, give parents a detailed, straight-forward explanation of the context and relevant content that factored into a
ESRB president Patricia Vance said: This new rating search app puts all this information at parents. fingertips when they need it most, right at the store.
The new rating search app is available for free via the iTunes App Store and offers access to ESRB rating information for over 18,000 titles. Rating summaries are available for all games rated since July 1, 2008, which means that many of the
games likely to appear on kids. wish lists this year will have rating summaries.
Pepsi has apologised for releasing an iPhone app that supposedly encouraged men to brag about their sexual conquests.
The AMP UP Before You Score app also provided phone users with chat-up lines for getting lucky with 24 different types of women.
The software provoked criticism and derision when news of its release broke yesterday, with people complaining that it was sexist and denigrated the status of women.
Thousands of protests were marshalled on Twitter under the hashtag #pepsifail, prompting the soft drinks giant to issue an apology over the official Twitter feed of AMP Energy, the new drink that the app was released to promote.
Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it's in bad taste & appreciate your feedback. #pepsifail, the tweet read.
But the company did not promise to withdraw the programme, which is still available to download for free from the App Store. The app's description encourages users to share the names of their sexual partners with their friends online: Get
lucky? Add her to your Brag List. You can include the name, date and whatever details you remembers . Keep your buddies in the loop on email, Facebook or Twitter.
Pepsi's unsophisticated appeal to masculine bravado went down particularly badly with readers of Jezebel, a US blog aimed at women.
Pepsi has retreated under heavy fire from feminists and finally pulled an iPhone app that they claim stereotypes women, but not before the firestorm had quieted down and the company felt it had reaped all the benefit it could from the
It launched Oct. 12 and almost immediately earned the scorn of feminists around the country.
An anti-AMP app Twitter campaign was also launched, prompting Pepsi to issue an apology, but it still refused to remove the app from the marketplace, until yesterday.
According to Associated Press, 'There was a lot of online chatter about the application last week and PepsiCo didn't remove the application then so the talk would continue,' said Kevin Dugan, director of marketing at Empower Media Marketing.
He suspects the chatter has died down—in fact, he said he hadn't heard about the application for days—and that's why PepsiCo removed it. 'The true benefit had been realized by PepsiCo with it generating all that buzz,' he said.
The Australian Classification Board has written to Government expressing concerns that mobile phone applications are being made available in Australia without being subject to a ratings process.
Whilst movies and computer games are subject to ratings from the Classification Board, the many thousands of games released as mobile apps on smartphone platforms such as the Apple iPhone bypass the process.
I recently wrote to the minister regarding my concern that some so-called mobile phone applications, which can be purchased online or either downloaded to mobile phones or played online via mobile phone access, are not being submitted to the
board for classification, Australia's Classification Board director Donald McDonald told a Senate Estimates committee in Canberra on Monday.
McDonald made the comment after informing Senators that the Classification Board had recently classified online game World of Warcraft with a rating of M , five years after the game became available in Australia.
While this is not the first online game to be classified by the board, World of Warcraft is arguably the most popular online game in the world, and the fact that it was not classified attracted industry and media interest, McDonald said.
Should the Classification Board be asked to rate downloadable mobile applications, the numbers of apps available to Australians on the Apple iTunes store alone would prove overwhelming. According to Apple, there are over 80,000 applications on
its iTunes store - the platform it uses to deliver games and applications to the iPhone.
I like my content filtering services not so much as a way of protecting my innocence, but more so I can just do my stuff without interruption. So I am having serious trouble understanding exactly what is driving the content filter on Vodafone's
3G dongle service.
Some days, whole swathes of the net are invisible - not because they are known to be rude, but because Vodafone claims it can't even decide whether they are rude, or not. Vodafone's content filter is offline, so to be on the safe side it just
bars all accesses to marked sites.
On those days you can read the BBC, and that's it.
Apple is so used to having its tame hacks write what it tells them that it gets into a bit of a quandary when they insist on writing the truth.
Bryan Appleyard wrote an extensive piece published in this week's Sunday Times about Steve Jobs and found that Apple's PR did its level best to squash the story. One Apple PR warned him that writing the biography of Jobs was discouraged and another PR rang up the editor of the Sunday Times to get the story halted.
Now the Sunday Times story that Apple tried to suppress is being circulated online and you have to wonder what the hell Jobs' Mob is worried about. The article itself is a reasonably balanced. There is a good Steve who is a genius and a bad Steve
who is evil. However it appears that due to Apple's attempt to quash it and the subsequent reports of that unsuccessful kiboshing, far more people are reading it than would have otherwise been the case.
My concerns were risen when my son went out and bought himself a gaming magazine to read the reviews of the latest Xbox 360 games. When he got home he quickly opened the magazine up and went straight for the demo disk and left his magazine on the
table. I love to play games myself so being quite inquisitive I picked up his magazine called X360 and started to flick through the pages with the hope of finding something that might catch my eye. To my surprise the only thing that did was the
last 4 pages of the magazine that contained major full page spreads of mobile sex games, videos and pictures. Convinced that my son had accidentally managed to purchase a mag from one of the 'upper-shelves' I turned to the front cover to see if
there was a 18 rated sticker anywhere on the front of the magazine. Nothing. Absolutely no indication that the magazine contained content unfit for young eyes.
Apple has rejected a dictionary application, Ninjawords , because it included words Apple deemed inappropriate.
According to an interview by John Gruber with Ninjawords developer Phil Crosby, Apple refused to upload Ninjawords to the iTunes store until a number of objectionable words had been removed. Besides fuck, shit, and
various other four-letter ones, words that Apple ordered eliminated include ass, cock, and screw . Even without these entries, Ninjawords is still a 17+ application!
Apparently, the English dictionary. As Gruber points out on his blog, we're talking about a reference book available in every classroom in the country. Apple's extraordinarily stringent, and seemingly arbitrary, process to decide what content is
appropriate for iPhone users overreaches the level of authority any company should exercise. The 17+ rating system can and should stand on its own as a tool for parents to police their own children's application use. With any other
censorship, Apple simply insults the maturity and intelligence of its customers.
Phill Schiller, a top bod at Apple, has replied about the censorship of the Ninjawords application.
Contrary to what you reported, the Ninjawords application was not rejected in the App Store review process for including common “swear” words. In fact anyone can easily see that Apple has previously approved other dictionary
applications in the App Store that include all of the “swear” words that you gave as examples in your story.
The issue that the App Store reviewers did find with the Ninjawords application is that it provided access to other more vulgar terms than those found in traditional and common dictionaries, words that many reasonable people might find upsetting
or objectionable. A quick search on Wiktionary.org easily turns up a number of offensive “urban slang” terms that you won't find in popular dictionaries such as one that you referenced, the New Oxford American Dictionary included in Mac OS X.
Apple rejected the initial submission of Ninjawords for this reason, provided the Ninjawords developer with information about some of the vulgar terms, and suggested to the developer that they resubmit the application for approval once parental
controls were implemented on the iPhone.
Schiller also notes that supposedly offensive words were removed by the developer so that the application could be sold before the introduction of a 17+ parental control feature. The developer could have sold the app 17+ uncut if he had waited
for the 17+ parental control facility roll out.
Of course Apple are sill censorial ratbags if they thing that young people have to wait until they are 17 just to read about vulgar terms in a dictionary.
After drawn out negotiations with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Apple has conceded and filed an application to officially sell its best-selling iPhone without wi-fi connectivity in the mainland.
The Network Access License will allow the company's iPhone to enter the Chinese market and run only on Chinese cellular networks in Beijing's bid to maintain government censorship.
One of the iPhone's selling features was its wi-fi connectivity that allowed users to access the internet and other special iPhone applications from any place with a hotspot connection.
Apple was hell bent on having the iPhone be wifi-enabled, says Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison told Businessweek: The Chinese government has been just as adamant that it not be.”
Start Mobile has managed to get 18 separate iPhone applications approved by Apple. So you'll imagine their surprise when one of them was recently rejected. But you may be even more surprised to find out why.
Apparently, Apple doesn't like the way one piece of art in the app depicts President Obama. Is it out of line or tasteless? Well, you can determine for yourself, because you've undoubtedly seen the art in question before: It's Shepard Fairey's
famous “HOPE” image of Obama that was everywhere during his Presidential campaign.
So why on Earth would this be rejected? Well, here's the wording in the rejection:
It contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states: “Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content
or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.
Ridicules public figures? This image is hanging in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian — yet, Apple apparently finds it inappropriate.
Apple has pulled BeautyMeter—the iPhone/iPod touch app that allowed users to upload pictures of themselves for others to rate—after a 15-yo girl published this picture showing her bare breasts and pubic hair.
Charlie Sorrel at Wired argues correctly that Apple will be damned with 17+ apps no matter what:
The problems for Apple are clear. By setting itself up as a guardian of the store, Apple can't win. Any time a controversial application is approved, or non-allowed elements are snuck into an application post-approval, Apple is blamed. If these
apps are pulled ahead of time, Apple is called out as an evil censor.
Any application that allows you to upload pictures and share them could be used to do exactly the same. So where should Apple stop, then? Should they ban any app that can be used to publish pictures or videos? Shouldn't the developers—and the
users—be responsible about this and not Apple.
The problem for Apple is probably not a legal one, but one of public perception, with people and mainstream assuming that—just because it runs on the iPhone—it is Apple's app.
Nutters are furious over a new Apple application which allows teenagers to access softcore pornography via the popular iPhone.
Dubbed 'iPorn' it is the first time the country's one million iPhone users can view such images with an application approved by the computer company.
The Hottest Girls package, which costs £1.19, is a 17-rated version of an older application that used to offer bikini and lingerie shots.
Previously users have been able to download softcore content from the web on to the iPhone but this is the first time such images have been available with Apple's permission.
The application is rated for those aged 17 and over, although this relies on teenage iPhone users telling the truth about their age when they sign up to the App Store.
Parents in the know can set controls on the new iPhone3GS that will stop the app appearing.
Miranda Suit, co-founder of the nutter group MediaMarch told MailOnline she was appalled : We are very concerned about the mainstreaming of pornography. It is being packaged in a tempting way and will be disastrous for youngsters who
are not equipped to deal with such content. And what about the growing number of sex addicts? I know of cases where they are trying to avoid certain films and magazines, but now even their phone will be a risk for them. We urge the Government to
look at the affect pornography has on children and vulnerable adults.
The application was amongst the first approved for a new 17 rating introduced to the iPhone Store.
However all is not clear as the Hottest Girls app was later removed from the App store sparking off stories that Apple have changed their mind in response to bad press.
Even later it was reported that the developer had asked for the App to be removed due to high demand on servers.
Apple have now come out as he censorial villain of the piece. By yesterday afternoon Apple was telling CNN:
The developer of this application added inappropriate content directly from their server after the application had been approved and distributed ... This was a direct violation of the terms of the iPhone Developer Program.
The application is no longer available on the App Store.
But it's not just Hottest Girls that has disappeared from the Application store - other titles from the same publisher have also been exorcised including Hottest Guys and Send Flowers.
Even the developer's web site (now) contains no reference to any of the applications or the accompanying fuss, so Apple has managed to ensure that iPhone users can download applications freely without fear of encountering a rouged female nipple,
for another day at least.
The recent discussion concerning the ESA's desire to have its rating organization, the ESRB, evaluate game content for the iTunes App Store brings a number of questions to mind:
Despite its present chaotic nature, the App Store is a rising star in the game space. Getting in on the ground floor would be a coup for the ESRB. Apple has a lot of money, too, and the ESRB is paid a fee by the developer/publisher for each game
ESRB is a non-profit organization funded by the revenue generated from the services we provide the industry. Given our highly discounted rate for lower-budget games, rating mobile games is not a financially attractive proposition; however we
believe making ESRB ratings available for those games would serve consumers well. Parents are already familiar with ESRB ratings and find them to be extremely helpful in making informed choices for their families.
Apple's integration of ESRB ratings into its parental controls for iPhone games would afford parents the ability to block those video games that carry an ESRB rating utilizing the same tool they are being offered to block video content that has
been rated by the MPAA or carries an official TV rating. It's about giving parents the same ability to do on the iPhone what they are being offered with other entertainment content and can already do on game consoles and other handheld game
What would it cost?
I asked the ESRB what it costs a developer/publisher to have a typical console game rated? Would the cost to rate an iPhone game be less? Mizrachi said:
Our standard fees for getting a game rated cover the costs of providing that service. However, to make accommodations for lower-budget product like casual and mobile games, several years ago we introduced a highly discounted rate - 80% less - for
games that cost under $250,000 to develop. We believe most iPhone games would likely be eligible for the discounted rate.
Who would pay for ESRB to rate App Store games?
Not the creators of $0.99 games, for the most part. They are apparently not making significant revenue. Apple has a deep pocket, of course, although they are not the creator of the games for sale on the App Store. Perhaps the larger industry
players such as EA, Namco, etc. would foot the bill for their games. They are already accustomed to dealing with the ESRB.
Apple has reversed its decision to reject the e-book reader app Eucalyptus from the App Store on the basis that it can access an English translation of the Kama Sutra. The change came after a hopefully embarrassed Apple representative contacted
the developer directly to discuss the issue.
The Apple representative asked Eucalyptus developer James Montgomerie to submit a build of Eucalyptus without any filtering in place, and, as of late Saturday, that version is now available for purchase from the App Store for $9.99.
The third version of Hot Dog Down A Hallway , Metaversal Studios' only iPhone app, has been rejected by the App Store. Apple ludicrously cites explicit content as the reason for its decision. Metaversal Studios is unconvinced by the
label, as the game, despite its suggestive name, has previously been given a low age rating of nine and up by the App Store. The developer's Interactive Director, Dave Laundry, believes the iTunes censorship policy is a mystery.
Hot Dog Down A Hallway v1.1 is still available from the App Store for $1, but will likely be removed.
A British-made iPhone program has been banned by Apple - because it 'could' allow people to read the Kama Sutra.
Eucalyptus, a book reading application developed by Edinburgh programmer James Montgomerie, allows users to download and read thousands of classic titles from the library of Project Gutenberg, the respected website that hosts out of copyright
But after repeated attempts to get Eucalyptus onto the iPhone's popular App Store, Montgomerie was told that his application was being rejected because one of Gutenberg's books happens to be Sir Richard Burton's 1883 translation of the famous
guide to sex.
In a series of emails, Apple told Montgomerie that allowing access to the Kama Sutra meant that the program contains inappropriate sexual content, in violation of the rules for iPhone software.
Of course the same title is already accessible through a number of other popular ebook applications for the iPhone, and even through the handset's web browser.
Montgomerie told the Guardian that although the situation has left him frustrated, it will not put him off developing for the iPhone. As a temporary solution to the problem, he has submitted a new version of Eucalyptus to Apple which specifically
blocks the Kama Sutra - and says he hopes that bureaucracy will not get in the way this time: I would like to think that someone, somewhere at Apple would realise just how flawed the whole approval process is, and do something to change it. It
does seem like it could be a lot better without having to spend too much extra money on it. They could make the whole thing a lot more pleasant.
Apple keeps a censorial grip over its iPhone which one of America's top-selling smart phones. It has proven itself more than willing to censor a broad range of content it finds morally questionable from violence to sexual themes. The latest
example of Apple seeking to help guide its customers' moral decisions came when the company rejected an application update from Trent Reznor, for an app for his band Nine Inch Nails.
Apple said the app was unacceptable because it came with profane music clips from NIN's groundbreaking album The Downward Spiral . Some note the curiousness of Apple's ruling, given that it happily sold the album on iTunes.
Now, at last, Apple has let its objections go away in the end. It has reversed its stance and said that Reznor can have it all, when it comes to his app update. Reznor happily Twittered the news to his fans.
While, it’s good to see Apple looking to re-evaluate its rules surrounding how it polices its app store empire, it’s also somewhat troubling, according to some, that Apple is developing a habit of rejecting applications on questionable grounds
and then approving them after criticism. Many say that Apple's selective and haphazard censorship demonstrates an inability to logically regulate its content, something which threatens the viability of the iPhone's app platform.
Apple may put News International's nose out of joint with its definition of 'obscene', after rejecting a newspaper-reading iPhone app for reasons of rudeness.
Newspaper(s), an application that renders content from the world's newspapers, was rejected by iTunes because it included the UK's Sun newspaper - complete with topless Page Three girl - on the grounds that it violates the iTunes policy on obscene content.
But the Sun reckons it's a family paper, and takes accusations of pornography-pushing very seriously indeed.
According to a report on iLounge the publisher of Newspaper(s) was recommended to resubmit the application once OS 3.0 is released, after which a suitable category will be available, but instead decided to remove the offending newspaper from the
Apple has apologised for a deeply offensive iPhone application called Baby Shaker , which made a game of quieting crying babies by shaking them.
It removed the $0.99 game from its iTunes Store two days after it went on sale.
It sparked 'outrage' from children's groups and brain injury foundations.
The aim of the game was to quiet babies by shaking the iPhone until a pair of thick red Xs appeared over each eye of a baby drawn in black-and-white.
This application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store, Apple said in a statement We sincerely apologise for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention.
The iTunes description included the line: See how long you can endure his or her adorable cries before you just have to find a way to quiet the baby down! It also included a disclaimer: Never shake a baby.
Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, said: I am disheartened that with this new application Apple is encouraging frustrated adults to shake infants, not only to end their crying, but to end their lives.
An application which draw a gun image on the iPhone screen has caused 'outrage' among anti-gun campaigners.
The software is available from Apple's iTunes download store, enabling any iPhone or iPod Touch user to transform their handset into a mock firearm.
Makers of the app boast it allows users to experience the sweet release you can only get from a finely crafted firearm – a firearm so smooth and well-balanced it feels like an extension of your own hand.
The applications are known as Bang Bang , Tak Tak and Boom Boom among other names.
Claudia Webbe, the chair of an independent advisory group for the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident gun-crime force, told the Evening Standard: This is hugely irresponsible in a climate when we are trying to get guns off the streets. I
am stunned this game should ever have been allowed to have been made. We have spent years trying to get imitation guns out of shops and this sort of product undermines that effort.
John Beyer of mediawatch UK added: In view of recent events in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, I think anything that glamorises guns and shooting is in extremely poor taste. I would hope that whoever is responsible for this would withdraw it
Apple is said to have no immediate plans to withdraw the applications.
Comment: STICK EM UP!
John Beyer of mediawatch UK added: In view of recent events in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, I think anything that glamorises guns and shooting is in extremely poor taste. I would hope that whoever is responsible for
this would withdraw it immediately.
Can you include our war mongering leaders who think the only way to solve disputes is through guns, shooting and violence Johnny Boy?
Anything that glamourises guns….Should we start banning wild western movies then Johnny?
Claudia Webbe, the chair of an independent advisory group for the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident gun-crime force, told the Evening Standard: This is hugely irresponsible in a climate when we are trying to get
guns off the streets. I am stunned this game should ever have been allowed to have been made. We have spent years trying to get imitation guns out of shops and this sort of product undermines that effort.
It's not really an imitation gun is it? It's still a mobile phone! Anyone who walks in to a shop and holds up a gun and yells STICK EM UP! is just gonna look stupid!
Never let the facts gets in the way of a good rent-a-quote opportunity!
The combination of mobile phones and pornography is proving an effective business model.
That is according to a report from analyst telecoms firm Juniper Research, who say Video chat services are expected to be the largest contributors to a mobile adult market worth $4.9 billion by 2013.
The report also found that premium adult content is proving relatively robust despite the economic crisis.
But it is thought the tightening of laws governing the availability of adult content may lead to weakening profits.
Recently Indonesia and Switzerland set tighter restrictions for accessing adult content, and providers in the US remain wary of offering pornographic content on their portals.
However, the popularity of on-portal adult content is booming in Europe and parts of Latin America. It is predicted Western Europe will remain the largest market for mobile adult services for some time, followed by the Far East & China.
However, the report commented that premium content providers are becoming increasingly concerned at the volume of free adult content available on the Internet.
Apple has blocked the creators of South Park from selling an iPhone app.
According to a BoingBoing post, friends at South Park said that We first announced our iPhone App back in October, after we submitted the Application to Apple for approval. After a couple of attempts to get the application approved, we
are sad to say that our app has been rejected.
The reason? The content was potentially offensive!
Mexico will start a national register of mobile phone users that will include fingerprinting all customers.
Under a new law due to be in force in April, mobile phone companies will have a year to build up a database of their clients, complete with fingerprints. The idea would be to match calls and messages to the phones' owners.
Politicians who pushed the bill through Congress last year say there are around 700 criminal bands in Mexico, some of them operating from prison cells, that use cell phones to extract extortion and kidnap ransom payments.
Most of Mexico's 80 million mobile phones are prepaid handsets with a given number of minutes of use that can be bought in stores without any identification. The phones can be topped up with more minutes via vendors on street corners.
The register, detailed in the government's official gazette, means new subscribers will now be fingerprinted when they buy a handset or phone contract.
The plan also requires operators to store all cell phone information such as call logs, text and voice messages, for one year. Information on users and calls will remain private and only available with court approval to track down criminals.
Japanese telco NTT Docomo has banned customers under 18 from accessing mobile internet dating sites.
The sites being banned are not the more dodgy wife-swapping sites either, but conventional blogging and social networking sites. While Mobage-town, Myspace Mobile and Gree have been deemed safe, others have been blocked by NTT Docomo.
It is expected that the move will be followed by outer Japanese telcos. Softbank Mobile has announced that it will start blocking the sites in the first week of February.
Docomo said that customers under 18 must submit an application and proof of age to view sites which are blacklisted.
To avoid blacklisting, site owners have to pay a content monitoring watchdog $5,574.86, have a 24-hour watch system in place and a system to notify police or fire officials in emergencies.
Last summer, the British cell phone carrier Vodafone announced it would be offering a new filtering service for its Czech customers. Child pornography and promotion of racism [are] such socially dangerous content that we have access to it
automatically blocked for all of our customers, said Philip Premysl, senior manager of corporate social responsibility of Vodafone in the press release.
But six months later, that filter also blocked pages on tech blogs, a chat server and a transportation site all based in the Czech Republic. Tech bloggers Radim Hasalik and David Biksadsky started a Facebook group called Stop Internet Censorship
(in the Czech language) to protest the poor filtering by the cell carrier.
Vodafone spokesman Miroslav Cepicky told me the carrier offers two tiers of filtering on its mobile Net services: one is the default filtering of child porn sites; the other allows parents to put on a "child profile" that blocks sites
related to erotica, violence, drugs and alcohol, gambling, and weapons.
Few would argue that illegal child pornography sites shouldn't be blocked, but how does Vodafone decide on the blacklist? That list comes from the Internet Watch Foundation, an independent group funded by the European Union and the online
industry, including telecommunication companies, internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile providers. About 95% of of UK Internet traffic is filtered via IWF blacklists, and many ISPs depend on IWF to decide which sites should be filtered
rather than making the decisions themselves.