The Irish government's attempt to register third-generation (3G) phones will not protect children from undesirable content. However, the registry could limit the adoption of these devices.
On 1 June 2004, Dermot Ahern, the minister for communications for the Republic of Ireland, announced plans for a national registry of 3G phones in an attempt to protect children from undesirable content delivered on 3G devices.
The Irish government is making the mistake of trying to control a technology, rather than a root problem that is merely enabled by the technology. Registering 3G handsets will not control undesirable use of the devices or inappropriate content carried on them.
Video and audio content can be created and delivered using many wireless devices and technologies, including 2.5G GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and Wi-Fi hotspots. Most future 2.5G mobile phones will have color screens and be able to display images and video clips, and many already allow Internet, e-mail and chat-room access. In any case, registering the owners of 3G devices — which will largely be used by businesses for the next several years — will not guarantee that they are used appropriately by nonowners who are underage.
The proposed registry would likely inhibit growth in the 3G market in Ireland, by complicating sales of prepaid subscriptions (in Ireland, about 73 percent of mobile subscribers prepay for their services).
Irish mobile network operators: Make a commitment to regulate content delivery on networks by implementing PIN (personal information number) access and user-identity checks. These measures will not be perfect, but they will do more than a government register.
Regulators and mobile network operators In Ireland and other countries where 3G services are being launched: When launching 3G services, work together to address content delivery issues, instead of letting governments take the lead.
Analytical Source: Nick Jones, Gartner Research
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