Skip to main content
July 1, 2008

Perverted video call on line one

GLOBAL – I’ve heard of dirty phone calls but sexual harassment via a video call is new one on us. Coming from the provincial island of Great Britain – where video calling is a pretty marginal activity to say the least, the thought of being greeted on your phone by some pervert striking a lewd depraved pose hadn’t even crossed our puritanical minds (or I imagine yours either).

But apparently, over in Korea, there’s been a spate of highly lubricious video calls where the sexual predator had disabled the caller ID function to lure unsuspecting females. Don’t worry, this isn’t a clever segue into a ‘How to make perverted video calls and not get caught’ tutorial but the start of an altogether more worrying debate.

Conversations’ favourite behavioural scientist and member of the Nokia Design Studio research team, Younghee Jung, has picked up on this shocking new lascivious activity over on her brilliant blog ruminating on the overall issue of privacy, control and how to deal with it.

As Younghee rightly points out, it’s sad to think that yet another mobile tool has been defiled for abusive means (see also Cyber Bullying text messaging and Happy Slapping) but it’s clearly the result of the way mobile technology has developed. As mobile functionality, technology and bandwidth increases, so the potential for intrusion grows. So how can you stop it?

The one major obstacle is how to shield mobile users from the abuse without taking away the consumer’s basic mobile rights, i.e. caller ID. Once you start to bring in laws or handset stipulations to help, it may have an adverse effect with us suddenly having less control. I’m sure it’s something mobile users won’t stand for.

As Younghee suggest, the answer could lie in some ‘smart handset design’ (the Nokia tech team need to get their thinking caps on) or in an emotional context specific type message technology. Younghee has already worked on such an area in her Defined Delivery project where their technology enabled test students to send text messages and notifications from a Nokia 7650 in the desired context i.e. “you’ve received a happy message from Grandma. Do you want to read?” If we take it a step further and find a way that all messages and video calls could be scanned for obscene content it might stop the undesirables having they’re twisted fun.

As you can see, this idea of how to thwart mobile intrusion is a veritable minefield and we’ve only really touched on a few issues here. But what do you think? Have you been on the receiving end of some mobile mistreatment?

Photo by pinkbeltrage