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Orange shuts out adult content

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Orange UK has started blocking the delivery of adult content to users not registered as over 18. The decision follows the launch of the official classification guidelines for adult content, as laid out by the UK's Independent Mobile Classification Body.

Orange said imposing the block was the "responsible" thing to do, and that it had planned the move since signing up last year to the voluntary mobile operators' code of practice on adult content.

Users wanting to access content now rated 18, such as pornography, violent games or gambling sites, must register their full address and credit card details with Bango.net. Users without credit cards are not able to register as adults: debit cards don't count.

A disgruntled reader told us: "Congratulations to Orange on quickly killing something they didn't like the look of. But you have to wonder if they're cutting their own throat, losing out on the premium SMS's, and the data transfer costs."

Orange says it is working on putting other technologies in place - but it seems that these are not as developed as the company might like.

"Complying with the code is not technically easy. Some solutions are hard work," a spokesman told us. "Things that looked like they'd be simple, turned out not to be. We ask our customers to bear with us."

We get the impression that Orange was rather hoping to have something already in place by this stage in the game. After all, adult content is big business. According to Juniper Research, mobile adult content alone is likely to be worth over $1bn this year. Customers in Europe spend more than anyone else, with an average annual revenue per user of more than $34.

Orange says that it didn't want to rush out a complex system that didn't work, in light of Vodafone's difficulties with its filter last year, where many users were denied access to all services, not just adult content. "We are introducing what we can introduce, first," the spokesman said. "We are testing different options and hope to have something ready by the end of the year."

Until then, the choice is pretty simple: if you want adult content on your handset, but don't have a credit card, the future is not Orange. ®

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