And, more importantly, why exactly is it that the wireless companies get to define “acceptable” content? Cellphone Entertainment, Yes, but Carriers Shy From X-Rated
With new functions to send e-mail, take pictures and listen to music, the mobile phone has turned into a portable minicomputer. But the operators of phone networks are resisting new services that proved very popular on the old personal computer: pornography and violent video games.
[...] “We’re not going to offer adult content; we’re not going to offer ultraviolent games,” said Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Cingular. “That is not compatible with the Cingular brand.”
Such decisions show the fine line that the carriers are trying to walk. Many, for example, already offer downloadable images of bikini-clad models from magazines like Sports Illustrated and Maxim. But some critics are raising concerns that the phone operators are acting as content gatekeepers.
Historically, telephone carriers have not been allowed to censor what people say over the telephone or what phone numbers they call. Similarly, the Federal Communications Commission has said that mobile phone operators cannot censor what sites consumers visit on the Internet.
But the F.C.C. said no rule governed what content the carriers could sponsor and sell themselves. Gene Kimmelman, senior director of Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine, said the operators of telephone networks, while not stopping consumers from visiting sites over the Internet, were creating two tiers of access, then making their own value judgments about what content to include in the more accessible tier.