Steps taken by the Mobile Industry to Protect Children

The mobile networks have taken technical steps to assist parents in protecting children from accessing adult or inappropriate content. In addition, WASPA, the local industry association, has set up procedures to allow consumers to lodge complaints about mobile services and SMS spam.

The mobile industry has put in place steps that allow parents (or guardians) to block access to adult content on their child’s cellphone. Vodacom has a technical tool that allows you to block attempts to access adult content via a cellphone. MTN offers a parental control feature that blocks access to any mobile content. Cell C, however, does not have a technical solution to assist parents in protecting their children from access to adult or other mobile content.

Vodacom’s Measures to Protect Children from Accessing Mobile Adult Content

All Vodacom contract subscribers can access adult content from their cellphones. Nevertheless, Vodacom allows parents to block adult content (including age classified content) from being received on their child’s cellphone. Parents can bar their children from accessing adult content by dialing *111*123# from the cellphone they want to block.

A person can only unblock a cellphone by going to a Vodashop or a Vodacom Service Provider outlet and verify that they are old enough to receive age restricted content.

Should a child attempt to access adult or age restricted content on a blocked cellphone he or she will get an access denied message on their screen. The message will read: “The page that you are trying to access may contain material of adult nature. You have access controls in place to block content of this type.” It should be noted, however, that while all mobile network and known adult Internet sites are blocked, not all WASP subscription services may be blocked.

All Vodacom prepaid customers will by default be barred from accessing adult content. All prepaid customers will have to verify their age and opt-in to receive adult content. Only users who are 18 years or older will be allowed to access off-net content. Users will be able to view content not suitable for people who are 16 years or older without having to opt-in or verify their age. Users will only receive warning screens which are more of a self-authorisation page. The warning should read:”The following content is only suitable for customers aged 16 years or over. By selecting CONTINUE, you are confirming that you are aged 16 years or over.”

Click here for more information about Vodacom’s adult content management feature that restricts the type of content children are able to access through their cellphone.

MTN’s Measures to Protect Children from Accessing Mobile Content

Customers can block one or all of the following mobile content: adult content, gaming, gambling, or anonymous/un-moderated chat services.

To block access to selected content, a parent needs to dial *101# from the handset, select the content that needs to be barred, create a PIN number and input your (the parents) cellphone number to receive updates on changes to the settings and PIN number.

Whenever any MTN subscriber accesses content / sites, a check is made whether there are any restrictions based on the Parental Control setting for that individual. If restricted, the subscriber will see the message: ‘Yello, Your Mobile Content Access Profile does not allow you access to the site. Please dial *101# to change your profile.’

If a subscriber comes across a site which they feel should be included in the barred database, they can ask MTN to assess the content and then include it in the database if required.

MTN has a parental control feature to restrict the type of content children are able to access through their cellphone. Click here for more information on MTN’s service.

Cell C And Virgin Mobile’s Measures

At the time of writing, Cell C and Virgin Mobile do not publicise on their websites measures to block access to adult or other mobile content from a cellphone on their network.