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Phone Booth Sex Ads Under Fire

Prostitutes will be forbidden to advertise in telephone booths and may have their telephones blocked, the British government said Friday.

Lewd, flimsy cards advertising sexual services proliferate in London telephone boxes. British Telecom, the country's largest telephone company, estimates it removes 150,000 cards each month from 700 booths in the capital.

"These cards are offensive, create a bad impression with foreign visitors and can be a bad influence on young people," Home Office Minister Charles Clarke said.

"They cost money to remove, and the people that place these cards in phone boxes can be threatening or violent toward the phone box cleaning teams and members of the public," he added.

Clarke did not announce details of the legislation or say when it would be introduced in Parliament.

The government is consulting with the industry regulator, the Office of Telecommunications, on the possibility of blocking calls to numbers advertising sexual services.