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O2 launches new service to combat cyberbullying (News Item)

25/05/2009

Dublin, Monday 25 May 2009 - O2 today announced details of a new service to combat bullying on mobile phones. Called Block It, the new service, which is free of charge, allows O2 customers to block unwanted text, picture and video messages from other mobile phone numbers. The service, which will be available from mid-June, can block messages sent from any Irish mobile network, and will work on any mobile handset.

Block It is extremely easy to use. To initially set up the service, a customer can simply text BLOCK IT START to 50216. Once registered, to block a number the customer texts the word BLOCK and the mobile phone number to 50216. This will stop all text, picture and video messages coming from this number. It is as simple for customers to unblock numbers if they want to do so.

Block It has been developed for O2 by Irish messaging services company Anam Mobile.

Speaking at the launch of the new service, Barry Andrews TD, Minister for Children said: “I welcome this new initiative, and O2’s commitment to finding solutions to the problem of bullying on mobile phones. Peer bullying is a blight on many children’s social, educational and emotional development and modern technology has become another means by which hurtful messages can be delivered. Mobile phones are a great way for us all to stay connected and any abuse of this form of communication should not be allowed to overshadow its many benefits.”

Damian Devaney, Marketing Director - Telefónica O2 Ireland said: “Bullying is unacceptable behaviour which we all have a role to play in trying to combat. While the problem of bullying is not a new one, the ways in which it happens are changing. In recognition of this, we have launched Block It which is the latest phase of O2’s campaign to promote the safer and more responsible use of mobile phones. Block It has been specifically designed to empower our younger customers, allowing them to get on with their lives without the fear of receiving unwanted hurtful or mean text, video or picture messages.”

Earlier this month O2 also introduced the Firefly phone into its range of devices. The Firefly phone is unique in the Irish market in that it is designed from a parent’s point of view and includes all key features required by a child. Protected by a parent-assigned PIN which allows parents to enter up to 22 trusted numbers into the phone including a speed-dial number for ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’, Firefly’s call screening option ensures that children can only receive calls from the contacts in their phonebook and as the handset does not have any texting or downloading capabilities, it is simple to use.

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For further information please contact:
Diarmuid O’Neill
O2
086-8542255


Editors Notes:
Block It enhances O2’s existing range of parental controls and dedicated information services aimed at protecting young people while using a mobile phone. These include a “Dual Access” service which allows both parent and child to have access to the account records of the child’s phone including account balances, numbers called and the services available on the mobile phone. O2 also has ‘Parental Controls’ services which restricts access to the Internet.

In 2008, O2 was involved in the launch of a special leaflet about Cyberbullying. The leaflet was developed by the Office for Internet Safety in conjunction with O2, Barnardos and the National Centre for Technology in Education.

O2 also, last year, launched a dedicated child protection section on its website, with key information for young people and their parents who are concerned about bullying behaviour coming from other mobile phone users. O2’s dedicated child protection site is available at www.o2.ie/childprotection .





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