We’ve had a few contacts about the Yahoo! Kids Filter article (no, unfortunately it’s not a mute button) posted earlier in January. Thankfully the boys over at Infinita have waded in and they managed to pull together more details about this whole murky underworld of regulations, and exceptions, for mobile content in Japan.
After several crime incidents involving high school students using dating sites last year, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in December 2007 asked the mobile network operators to step up their efforts implementing and promoting content filtering services to limit access by minors to “potentially harmful types” of mobile websites.
All carriers since 2005 have been offering filtering applications that restrict access to sites that fall into the “potentially harmful” category: adult content and things links like gambling, of course – but more notably, anything that enables communications between users, such as the ultra-popular gaming and social networking site mobagetown and the mobile versions of mixi, bulletin boards like 2ch.net and dating sites. The list of sites to be filtered out is managed by Netstar Inc., a joint subsidiary of TrendMicro and Alps System Integration.
Under the proposed measures, all mobile phone subscribers under the age of 20 signing up for a new contract will be subject automatically to these access restrictions, unless their legal guardian accompanies them to the mobile carrier’s shop and opts out. For existing contracts that have a minor as the user, parents will be contacted by the carrier from next month, informing them that if they do not opt out, the filter will be automatically turned on sometime early this summer.