Dial-up service

Police arrest two people in Japan for selling porn via cellphones.



Jack Boulware
September 28, 2000 11:21PM (UTC)

Japanese porn enthusiasts already know that dirty pictures are hard to come by in their country. Article 175 of the Japanese Criminal Code prohibits the public distribution or exhibition of "obscene pictures and/or documents." No slap on the wrist for violators here: Punishment can be up to two years in prison or a 2.5 million yen fine (about $23,500).

Japanese police are increasing their presence as the Internet grows more popular. In the first six months of this year, police made 201 "network-based crime" arrests, more than half related to porn and child prostitution. According to Japan's courts, any site that links to a porn site is now considered illegal, even if the homepage creator doesn't know it's a porn site.

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Then how do porn aficionados get their fix? They turn to the hottest new technology on the planet: cellphones.

The NTT DoCoMo's i-mode cell phone service has been discovered to be ideal for downloading porn images from Web sites. Porn-hounds across Japan are now surreptitiously peeking at and murmuring into their phones on subway trains or at their desks. So much so, in fact, that police made two arrests last week, the first time anyone has been charged with distributing porn through a mobile phone.

According to investigators, a 36-year-old owner of an online lingerie shop, based in Shizuoka prefecture, allegedly sold porn videos through his site, using porn images to promote the video sales. When the suspect was arrested by Aichi Prefectural Police, he reportedly had already sold about 220,000 yen (about $2,050) worth of products.

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An unrelated arrest targeted an unemployed 31-year-old man from Miyazaki prefecture, who was sending porn images to sell annual subscriptions to his site for 3,000 yen (about $28), and as of last week had signed up more than 40 subscribers.

NTT DoCoMo, of course, claims no responsibility for any lecherous use of their technology. They attempt to screen the contents of all their "official" i-mode sites, but insist it's impossible to verify contents of the thousands of unofficial sites that can be accessed through their service.

Look for other nations to figure this out soon enough.

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Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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