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AT&T suspends parental control service

AT&T has temporarily suspended a new parental control service on cell phones after it was discovered there were potential issues with 911 services.

AT&T confirmed Monday that it has suspended a new service that lets parents limit usage on their kids' cell phones after the company realized that there was a potential issue with 911 emergency services.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Monday that the "Smart Limits" service, which was launched on September 4, has been temporarily suspended. Smart Limits is a new parental control service that allows parents to restrict phone calls to and from their kids' phones during certain times of day. This feature allowed parents to limit or block cell phone use on their children's cell phone during school hours, for example.

Even when call restrictions are in effect, the service still allows phones to reach 911 operators. But during a routine review of the service, AT&T discovered that if restricted users were disconnected during their 911 call, that the 911 operator was blocked from calling back the phone.

The company has said that it isn't aware of any specific incidents where this has occurred, but it has suspended the service until a resolution can be worked out. Parents who subscribed to the service were credited the $4.99 monthly charge. But they are still able to use other parental control features as part of the service, such as setting restrictions on the mobile Web or downloadable content.

"The service was very well received by customers in the first few weeks it was available," said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel. "But the safety and security of our customers comes first. We plan to reintroduce the service as quickly as we possibly can."