U.K. Mobile Group Releases Adult Content Guidelines

Jeff Berg
LONDON — A body of United Kingdom-based mobile service providers have released a classification system for commercial content providers aimed at providing rating systems to stop minors from looking at inappropriate content.

The classification framework put out by the Independent Mobile Classification Body will allow mobile content providers guidelines so they can self-classify their own content as being suitable for a general audience or only those over the age of 18.

“In launching the classification framework, we have fulfilled one of the key commitments made by the mobile phone operators last year,” said Paul Whiteing, director of IMCB. “This is a positive step forward in encouraging responsible access to commercial content.”

The classification system lays out eight different aspects that must be considered when deciding whether material is open to a general audience. All content that encourages activities that are prohibited for minors, like drinking alcohol or gambling, would automatically be rated for a restricted audience.

Frequent use of profanity, depictions of real or simulated sex acts, nudity, graphic violence and detailed descriptions of criminal techniques also are prohibited.

IMCB did give more leeway to the categories of sex acts and nudity than the others, though, noting that if the material was presented in a way that seeks to inform and educate on matters of sexuality, safe sex or health, it will be viewed in a kinder light.

Even though IMCB’s new system only applies to content providers who distribute to U.K. audiences and is limited to still images, video and audiovisual material and mobile games, the implications for providers found in violation of the framework could be great.

Because IMCB was created by the six largest U.K. mobile phone operators, any content provider that does not follow the new classification scheme could be found in breach of contract with its particular operator.

Content not covered under framework includes phone sex lines, gambling services, content produced by subscribers, such as weblogs, and any Internet content that the mobile operator only provides connectivity to.