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Cellular Operators Weigh Moves To Shield Kids From Phone Porn

CANNES, France (AP) Wireless companies are under pressure to police the services they carry amid mounting concern that today's increasingly versatile cell phones can be gateways to a lot more than football highlights and pop videos.

As governments and parent groups wake up to the problems posed by an expected global boom in mobile pornography and gambling, a few operators are taking action to restrict such content to over-18s.

``We've learned from fixed-line (Internet) that if you leave it too late the genie gets out of the bottle,'' said Al Russell, head of content services for Vodafone UK.

Parent Vodafone Group PLC, which has operations in 26 countries, backed voluntary age checks and content filtering in Britain and is urging partners and rivals to avoid heavy-handed regulation by supporting similar moves elsewhere in the world.

Russell was speaking at the annual 3GSM World Congress on the French Riviera, which ends Thursday. This year, the four-day mobile industry gathering was abuzz with the arrival of a plethora of third-generation phones and services offering speedy connections to a widening array of multimedia content.

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