Corporate Service Providers Promote Mobile Censorship

SAN JOSE/SUNNYVALE, Calif.,—Watch out, world; the mobile censors are massing at the gates. Instead of promoting solutions that offer individualized methods to filter unwanted content received on their mobile devices, these corporate service providers are trying to jump-start censorship at the network level, similar to mandatory ISP-level filtering being proposed in some countries.

One example of this entirely predictable and yet jaw-dropping strategy can be found in a press release issued Tuesday by Mobixell Networks and Commtouch.

Mobixell is a U.S.-based company that “provides intelligent mobile Internet solutions to mobile operators that optimize data networks and maximize data profitability. Mobixell's flagship product, Seamless Access, enables mobile operators to intelligently manage, optimize, and monetize the surging mobile data and video traffic while giving subscribers an exceptional user experience.”

Commtouch, which is traded on NASDAQ, “safeguards the world's leading security companies and service providers with cloud-based Internet security services. A cloud-security pioneer, Commtouch's real-time threat intelligence from its GlobalView Network powers Web security, messaging security and antivirus solutions, protecting thousands of organizations and hundreds of millions of users worldwide.”

These companies are using the time-discredited if popular ploy of “protecting children” to begin “a new effort to support mobile operators worldwide to comply with proposed Web content regulation.”

No such legislation has been passed into law yet, but that has not stopped Mobixell and Commtouch from putting subtle pressure on operators to comply with them. Though why not put the cart before the horse if the intent is also to encourage certain governments to not only get current bills passed, but also introduce new ones that target mobile networks?

“National governments, including those in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia, are promoting legislation to protect children from pornography and other unsuitable Web content,” the release reads. “The ability for mobile device users, many of whom are minors, to freely access the Web, has made this an especially critical issue for telecom operators. If implemented, legislation would require operators to actively block undesirable content and make certain types of content available only if users opt-in to receive it.”

The double-speak in that paragraph is impressive, to say the least, even if the underlying intent is to reduce the level of speech on mobile networks to that found on a playground. Luckily for Americans, we have a First Amendment that thus far has protected us from this sort of wholesale restriction on protected speech, but they don’t have such protections in the countries mentioned above, or in many others.

Sadly, because we are all connected on the internet, ISP and network-level filtering could have dire consequences far beyond the borders of the countries that unwisely pass such laws. But that is of scant concern to these aspiring gate-keepers of censorship, these wannabe border guards of speech, who naturally also have a substantial financial interest in the legislation they are so cynically promoting.

“Mobixell Seamless Access Mobile Internet Gateway, featuring Commtouch GlobalView URL Filtering offers advanced content filtering capabilities which enable telecom operators to improve security for mobile device users and ensure compliance with child protection Web content legislation,” reads the PR.

How thoughtful.