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UK unfurls ratings system for adult content on mobiles

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The long-awaited classification framework for adult content on mobile phones was launched yesterday by the Independent Mobile Classification Body (IMCB), a subsidiary of ICSTIS. The classification has been designed to be "consistent, as far as is possible" with standards already used in film and game classification, the IMCB says.

The onus is now on the content providers to classify all the commercial content they supply according to these guidelines. If they do not, they risk breaching the terms of the contract with their mobile operator client, who is then responsible for enforcing the rules.

The new rules outline eight categories under which content might be classified as adult, beginning with general themes. Although no theme is specifically prohibited, IMCB says that to be classed as universally accessible, content must not actively promote or encourage activities like drinking alcohol or gambling.

Others are language, sex, nudity, violence, drugs, horror and imitable techniques, such as headbutting or use of weapons, or "detailed descriptions of techniques that could be used in a criminal offence". In layman's terms, that means no descriptions of how to steal a car while high on drugs and listening to illegally downloaded music.

The guidelines don't apply to general internet access, but the IMCB adds that there is no reason mobile operators can't put their own filters in place to restrict access to other inappropriate content.

IMCB director Paul Whiteing said the guidelines are a positive step forward, but emphasised that parents must still play a role in deciding what kind of content they want their children to be able to access.

The classification framework is available here. ®

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