[Tech] [Soc] [Ubicomp] NTT DoCoMo Pioneers 'Dark Side' Research On Mobile Phones


Interesting, I wonder what were the behind-the-scenes debate to get this going.

In a "fireside chat" during Tuesday's (Feb. 15) keynote session, NTT DoCoMo President Masao Nakamura cited the Mobile Social Research Institute, founded last year by his company, as a pioneer in measuring and ameliorating the implications for Japanese society of a population in which 85 million (out of 120 million) depend heavily on mobile telephony.

Citing the myriad forms of mobile phone misuse — ranging from bad subway etiquette to the exploitation of prepaid mobiles in criminal, or terrorist, conspiracies — Nakamura said, "Operators shouldn't escape this issue by just laying the blame on society."


Expanding on Nakamura's remarks, NTT DoCoMo spokeswoman Tomoko Homma said mobile phone users who talk too loud represent only the starting point for the Mobile Social Research Institute, whose purpose is "research and development into the impact of mobile communications on human life."

Among the gravest issues NTT DoCoMo social scientists are exploring is the use of prepaid phones by criminals. NTT DoCoMo has responded by requiring a form of "registration" for all phone buyers, so that no phone can be used in complete anonymity. The company is encouraging other Japanese operators to follow suit.

A new crime in Japan, inspired by mobile telephony, is the use of camera phones for "book piracy" — the photographing of entire books inside bookstores. Photo voyeurism, a longstanding problem in Japan, has been abetted by the convenience and concealment of mobile camera phones.


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