Carriers adopt content rating for cellphones

Updated: Nov 14 2005, 05:30am hrs
Major cellular phone carriers in the US said last week that they had adopted a content rating system for video, music, pictures and games that they sell to cell phone users a development that could pave the way for them to begin selling pornography and sex-oriented content on mobile devices.

The carriers said the ratings, meant to mimic content classifications for movies and video games, are voluntary. Initially, the carriers would classify content in two categories: general interest and restricted content deemed appropriate only for people over the age of 18.

The carriers said they had agreed not to begin making restricted content available until they had developed filters and other technological tools that would enable parents to prevent children from getting access to inappropriate material.

The carriers, including Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless, the largest and second-largest mobile companies, said they were developing filtering technology and that it should be available soon.

This gives people the tools to decide whats appropriate and whats not appropriate for them, Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Cingular, said of the content ratings. But industry analysts said the creation of a rating system showed that the carriers were moving toward selling sex-oriented content. That could add to the growing revenue carriers are getting from selling music, short videos, images and access to news and information.

The content guidelines and any filters that carriers may provide would not affect content that mobile phone users download directly from the Internet. The guidelines apply only to content that subscribers purchase on menus provided by the carriers.

-NY TIMES