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Telecoms to ban wireless access to foreign porn sites

Smartphones being sold in the Korean market (Yonhap News)
Smartphones being sold in the Korean market (Yonhap News)
The government and telecom companies have agreed to ban access to foreign pornography via wireless devices such as tablet PCs and smartphones from as early as November, communications authorities said.

According to the Korea Communications Commission, the nation’s top three telecom services providers ― KT, SK Telecom and LG Uplus ― are pushing to revise their policy terms to block access to obscene content.

“We are preparing a revised policy that contains the measures to block lewd materials. After further discussions, the final plan will be reported to the KCC in November,” said a SK Telecom official.

SK Telecom voluntarily blocked five pornographic websites from overseas in August that were most frequently accessed by smartphones.

Industry sources said KT and LG Uplus also plan to submit revised measures to the communications regulator soon.

Even though the communications regulator has controlled Korean pornographic sites, it has been helpless when it comes to content that originates abroad.

Because many foreign sites require no adult-confirmation process, concerns have been escalating about children accessing harmful content.

If the planned revisions are implemented, however, adults as well as teens and children will not be allowed to access pornographic content. Adult users will be able to access content approved by the KCC after an identification process.

Skepticism still remains among online users about the effectiveness of the joint efforts by the government and the telecom industry to block foreign pornographic sites and content.

Currently, a similar access ban has been imposed on lewd content and North Korean websites via broadband Internet connections but authorities have difficulty effectively controlling them as they change IP addresses repeatedly, they said.

“Despite the access ban, it will be very difficult to prevent the distribution of obscene material via email or person-to-person,” an online user said.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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