In March 2015, the BBFC was appointed by the mobile network, EE, to provide the classification framework for its ‘Strict’ level, defining content that is unsuitable for children under 12.

This is in addition to the BBFC’s role in defining content unsuitable for people under 18. The EE Strict Classification Framework is based on our well known and trusted PG Rating, and is designed to enable parents to restrict mobile internet access to websites that are unsuitable for younger children.

As with the BBFC Mobile Classification Framework, it is a living document that is updated regularly to reflect evolving public attitudes and societal concerns.

The self-regulatory partnership between EE and the BBFC adds another strand to our existing collaborations with mobile operators to bring trusted, transparent and consistent BBFC standards to bear on mobile content.

EE Strict - Framework
The EE Strict Classification Framework shall allow for Commercial Content that is supplied over the EE, T-Mobile and Orange mobile networks to be placed behind the ‘Strict’ setting. The Classification Framework will also be used to calibrate the filters used by EE to restrict access to websites on the Internet (i.e. content delivered by URLs).

The BBFC has created and will maintain the EE Strict Classification Framework.

The EE Strict Classification Framework is based on the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines which are the result of regular large scale public consultation as well as UK Law and credible media effects research.

The EE Strict Classification Framework is a living document which adapts to reflect evolving public attitudes and societal concerns.

The EE Strict Classification Framework does not cover the following: 

  1. Apps. It is the responsibility of the Apps store provider to enforce their own terms and conditions 
  2. Online advertisements. These remain the responsibility of the ASA 
  3. UK political parties with representatives elected in local, regional, national and European elections
  4. Premium rate voice or premium rate SMS text only services, which continue to operate under the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice

Additional categories of content are filtered in accordance with EE’s editorial policies for the ‘Strict’ level, for the protection of young children for whom the category in of itself may be unsuitable.  These include tobacco, alcohol, gambling, dating, plagiarism, file sharing and chat.

It is the Content Provider’s responsibility to ensure that none of the content subject to the Classification Framework contains any illegal material.

It is the retailer’s responsibility to utilise effective age verification systems when it comes to supplying customers with age restricted goods or services, and the relevant local Trading Standards service is responsible for the enforcement of this consumer related legislation.

The Classification Framework operates a binary classification system. It defines what the BBFC considers not suitable for those customers aged under 12.

Responsibility for the interpretation of the Classification Framework rests with the BBFC and is subject to normal considerations of fairness and reasonableness.

Some sites may be placed behind filters if they are a known method of circumventing parental controls.

There is no one determining factor which would lead to advice being given by the BBFC that particular content is not suitable for those aged under 12. The BBFC can take into account a variety of factors, including but not limited to the nature of the material and the public acceptability of a particular product or service in relation to those aged under 12.

The context in which an issue (such as sex, language or violence) is presented is also central to the question of whether or not it is suitable. That context may either aggravate an issue (for example when language is used aggressively) or mitigate (for example comedy may soften the effect). 

The following type of content is what the BBFC considers not suitable for a PG audience, i.e. those customers aged under 12.

Any content described below will be placed behind EE’s ‘Strict’ filter.

Behaviour

  • detail of potentially dangerous behaviour which children are likely to copy, if that behaviour is presented as safe or fun  (e.g. playing with fireworks, climbing into freezers, playing on railway lines)
  • depiction of self harm
  • glamorisation of realistic or easily accessible weapons such as knives, including a focus on such weapons
  • focus on anti-social behaviour which young children are likely to copy (e.g. bullying, vandalism)
  • instructional detail or glamorisation of criminal activity

Discrimination

  • discriminatory language or behaviour unless clearly disapproved of, or in an educational context suitable for younger children  
  • discrimination by a character with whom children can readily identify
  • aggressive discriminatory language or behaviour 

Drugs

  • references to illegal drugs or drug misuse unless innocuous 
  • references to illegal drugs or drug misuse unless they carry a suitable anti-drug message
  • verbal or visual depictions of tobacco or alcohol use which glamorise or otherwise promote it

Language

  • moderate, strong or very strong language
  • mild language which is aggressively used or very frequent

Sex

  • sexualised posing, dancing or gestures
  • sight of sexual activity unless discreet, infrequent and implied only
  • sight of sex toys and paraphernalia
  • moderate or crude sex references
  • nudity in a sexual context
  • sight of genitals in a work with no apparent educational purpose
  • sex education and advice which is inappropriate for children aged under 12 (this will include detailed discussion of topics such as abortion or sexual positions and performance)
  • verbal or visual references to bondage and other BDSM activities

Violence and Threat

  • moderate or strong violence 
  • emphasis on injuries or blood, gory moments, which may be animated
  • prolonged or intense frightening sequences
  • moderate physical and psychological threat and horror
  • visual or verbal references to sexual violence
EE Strict - Advice
The BBFC offers an advice service to EE, Commercial Content Providers and EE’s contracted filtering providers for borderline cases, specifically whether or not particular content should be filtered according to the EE Strict Classification Framework.

The service is free of charge and applies to content on EE, T-Mobile and Orange mobile networks.  It will normally take less than five Working Days.

Requests may be made here.

On receipt of an advice request, the BBFC will ensure that the work, or the relevant parts of the work, is viewed by the BBFC Mobile Content Advice Team, made up of senior members of the BBFC.

The BBFC will communicate the advice to EE, Commercial Content Provider or EE’s contracted filtering provider within 5 Working Days, provided there is no need to seek views from legal and / or other external advisers, in which case such views will be sought and considered as soon as is reasonably practicable.

EE Strict - Appeals & Complaints
A free, two tier appeals procedure operates under the EE Strict Classification Framework. It is open to any website owner, content provider, consumer or any other person who has an interest in the material, who is dissatisfied with the application of the EE Strict Classification Framework in respect of a piece of content. An appeal may only relate to whether or not the BBFC considers the content in question suitable for children aged under 12, and is applicable for access via the EE, T-Mobile and Orange mobile networks (not wi-fi).

In the first instance, the appellant should contact EE, which will consider the issue. This process will take no more than five working days.

Appeals may be sent to safeguard@ee.co.uk.

If this first stage does not resolve the issue, the appellant may then contact the BBFC for adjudication.

The appeal to the BBFC will normally take no more than five working days.

Please note that an appeal involves looking at the issues afresh. This means that the outcome could, in some circumstances, be more restrictive than the original advice.

Although the appeal is limited as to whether or not a piece of content should be behind access controls or internet filters, the BBFC may advise, if appropriate, on:

  • how the content may be changed to remove the necessity for filters;
  • whether in the view of the BBFC the content, or part of it, is potentially illegal under UK law.

On receipt of a valid written appeal request, the BBFC will ensure that the work, or the relevant parts of the work, is viewed by the BBFC Mobile Content Appeals Committee, made up of senior members of the BBFC.  (Normally this will include the Chief Executive, the Policy Director and a Compliance Manager.) 

The BBFC will consider any written representations made by the appellant or any other interested party.

The BBFC will communicate the outcome of the appeal to the appellant, EE and such other interested parties as the BBFC considers appropriate within 5 working days, provided there is no need to seek views from legal and / or other external advisers, in which case such views will be sought and considered as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Stage Two appeal decisions are final. Appeals and complaints may be made here.

EE Strict - Q&A
The EE Strict Classification Framework is based on the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines for PG which are the result of regular large scale public consultation as well as UK Law, including as it relates to age restricted products and services, and credible media effects research. The EE Strict Classification Framework is a living document which adapts to reflect evolving public attitudes and societal concerns. The BBFC’s adult Classification Framework covers most relevant questions here. This Q&A specifically relates to the EE Strict Classification Framework.

The Classification Framework applies across a broad range of content accessible on the EE, T-Mobile and Orange mobile networks.

For Commercial Content, the Classification Framework will be applied to the following categories:

  • Still pictures
  • Video and audio/video material
  • Mobile (including java based) games

The EE Strict Classification Framework will also be used to calibrate the internet filters used by EE The Framework defines content which meets the BBFC’s PG Guidelines and is therefore suitable for those under 12. 

More information can be found here. 

It is the retailer’s responsibility to utilise effective age verification systems when it comes to supplying customers with age restricted goods or services, and the relevant local Trading Standards service is responsible for the enforcement of this consumer related legislation. It is the Content Provider’s responsibility to ensure that none of the content subject to the Classification Framework contains any illegal material. 

Further information can be found here.

Additional categories of content are filtered in accordance with EE’s editorial policies 

for the ‘Strict’ level, for the protection of young children for whom the category in of itself may be unsuitable.  These include tobacco, alcohol, gambling, dating, plagiarism, file sharing and chat.

To apply the Strict setting on your child’s EE device just text the word Strict to 879 on your child’s device. (On T-Mobile it’s the same text Strict to 879 and on Orange text the word Safeguard to 150 from your child’s device).

More information about changing your parental control settings here.

 

We offer a free advice service to EE and commercial content providers for borderline cases, in relation to the Strict Classification Framework. 

More information is available here.

The kind of content that may typically be rated 12 by the BBFC at the cinema or on video includes moderate or strong language, moderate or strong violence, and / or nudity in a sexual context. Please refer to the EE Strict Classification Framework page for more information.

You can access the Guidelines here

In the first instance please contact EE at safeguard@ee.co.uk. If the issue remains unresolved, appellants can contact the BBFC for adjudication. 

Further details are available here

Complaints can be made here.

EE Quarterly Report

The BBFC provides the classification framework for the EE mobile network ‘Strict’ level, defining content that is unsuitable for children under 12. In the interest of transparency, we publish all our adjudications of cases reported to us of possible underblocking or overblocking, along with requests for advice on whether particular content should go behind parental controls or adult filters. We keep this list updated as and when new cases are reported to us and publish updates every three months.