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New UK MVNO offers white list calling for kiddies' mobes

Data to follow in September

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The UK has a new virtual operator, one specifically targeting parents who believe their children need a mobile phone before they're old enough to cope with the pressure of having one.

For three quid a month (plus call/text charges), Bemilo lets parents vet potential contacts, read every SMS and lock down the phone at night to prevent under-the-covers texting, and claims to be superior to alternatives by controlling this from the network side rather than relying on an device-installed application – and the firm will tell you all this in a surprisingly loud voice if you visit the launch site.

Such applications are already available. Vodafone (on whose infrastructure Bemilo is camping) has a free app which does much the same thing should one's spawn be sporting Android hardware. Vodafone Guardian will even send out an email alert should tech'ed up kids learn how to uninstall it, and will also restrict access to specific applications.

But that's just for Android, and even Norwegian alternative Bipper, which flirted with a SIM-based solution for a while, is only available on Android/iOS and BlackBerry these days, so what's the overprotective parent who can only afford a feature phone to do?

That's where Bemilo comes in, though it won't protect kiddies from the badness of the internets as that's a feature planned for September, and one which is unlikely to work once the home Wi-Fi is within range. But Bemilo does provide a web-based interface, where one can add children who might benefit one's own offspring in the future, and remove those coming from the wrong sort of family, as well as checking up on what's being texted and when calls are happening.

One can moan about parents ceding control of their children to computer systems, but things are getting increasingly difficult for parents and the idea (promoted by the ISPs) that on-PC filters are the solution is increasingly laughable as internet-connected devices in the home proliferate.

Bemilo controls SMS traffic, but one has to wonder how much of that has already shifted to social networks beyond its control, and all but the youngest child is going to want access to those services too. ®

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