Dermot Ahern TD, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has called on mobile operators to introduce a national register for 3G phones, to help allay fears over children accessing unsuitable content.
He made the plea at the announcement of new measures aimed at protecting children who use mobile phones. A national register, it is believed, would offer a further safety mechanism for minors, especially as 3G technology brings with it the possibility of receiving video clips to mobile handsets.
“3G is a very exciting technology but equally so there are concerns about its potential danger for children,” the Minister said. “I think we need a national register for 3G phones.” A similar register for picture phones has proved impractical because there are a large number of handsets already in circulation, making it difficult for users to register retrospectively. “3G is different because the handsets are not available and won’t be until later this year,” Ahern pointed out.
The Department has already been in discussions with Ireland’s three mobile operators about the issue and plans to put in place a working group to develop proposals on the subject. Ahern said it would be important that registering phones would not be a cumbersome process.
“There are no porn services to promote the marketing of 3G but this technology has no borders, the same as the internet, so we have to take as many safeguards as we can,” he added.
As it stands, almost 85pc of current prepaid phones are already registered and all three Irish mobile operators offer free call credit to users as an incentive to register.
By Gordon Smith