12 February 2010

YouTube's new tool for kid-safe viewing

(Net Family News)
More than 33 billion online videos were watched during December and about a third of the them were on YouTube, according to comScore's latest figures. A 2008 study by Nielsen found that YouTube was 2-to-11-year-olds' No. 1 video viewing site (see this). So parents will probably be happy to know that YouTube now has its own filter for sexually explicit or violent content. "While no filter is 100% perfect, Safety Mode is another step in our ongoing desire to give you greater control over the content you see on the site," says the YouTube blog.

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02 December 2009

US - Video game ratings board releases iPhone app

(CNET News.com)
The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) announced its new iPhone app, which is designed to put the board's full written summaries of more than 2,500 video games right at parents' fingertips.

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28 November 2009

FR - Nadine Morano critique la signalétique des jeux vidéo

(01ne)
La secrétaire d’Etat à la Famille estime que les avertissements Pegi de classification par âge sont peu lisibles. Les éditeurs de jeux vidéo sont en colère.

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15 November 2009

New tool for keeping Web searches safe

(Net Family News)
Google has a new feature that lets parents lock the computers kids use into the strictest SafeSearch setting. All parents need to do is log into their Google account on any computer the kids use, click on Settings, then Search Settings in the upper right-hand corner of the page. On the page that takes you to, scroll down to SafeSearch Filtering and click "Lock SafeSearch." Here's a little 95-sec. demo and Google's Help page on the locking tool. The only thing to remember is that you need to do this with any browser used on that computer - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.

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25 September 2009

CN - Last Major PC Makers Ditch Chinese Web Filter

(IDG News Service)
Some of the few PC makers who offered a controversial Web filtering program mandated by China have reversed those plans, dealing the latest blow to China's efforts to deploy the software nationwide. Lenovo, Acer and Sony have all stopped bundling the program, named Green Dam Youth Escort, with PCs sold in China, the companies said.

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15 September 2009

Web-monitoring software gathers data on kid chats

(AP)
Parents who install a leading brand of software to monitor their kids' online activities may be unwittingly allowing the company to read their children's chat messages - and sell the marketing data gathered. Software sold under the Sentry and FamilySafe brands can read private chats conducted through Yahoo, MSN, AOL and other services, and send back data on what kids are saying about such things as movies, music or video games. The information is then offered to businesses seeking ways to tailor their marketing messages to kids. Five other makers of parental-control software contacted by The Associated Press, including McAfee, Symantec and CyberPatrol said they do not sell chat data to advertisers.

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07 September 2009

US - FCC cites success of video game rating system

(News.com)
In a report regarding the implementation of the Child Safe Viewing Act, the FCC found that the video game ratings scheme is a success and that "the video game industry already provides one of the most robust voluntary rating systems available." The report also concludes that the variety and variables within each media segment make it extremely difficult to manage.

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20 August 2009

DE - Scharfe Kritik am deutschen Jugendschutz

(Heise)
"What's wrong with the Germans?" – an dieser provokanten Frage hat Electronic-Arts-Manager Gerhard Florin am Donnerstag auf der Kölner Spielemesse gamescom seine harte Kritik am deutschen Jugendschutz und dem System der Selbstkontrolle aufgehängt. Besonders an der Nicht-Freigabe vieler Spiele entzündet sich die Kritik des EA-Vertreters: "Das ist für mich Zensur".

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22 June 2009

UK - PEGI ratings 'need improvement'

(BBC)
The videogame trade association, Tiga, say the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating systems has "room for improvement". Tiga's chief, Dr Richard Wilson, said changes were needed to make the logos "instinctively recognisable".

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17 June 2009

Bing gets porn domain to filter out explicit images and videos

(Computerworld)
Microsoft has added a separate domain to its Bing search service just for pornographic images and video. No, Microsoft isn't getting into the smut business. Instead, the company is trying to make it easier for companies and organizations to filter explicit images out of search results. Mike Nichols, general manager of Microsoft Bing, said in a blog post that potentially explicit images and video content now will be coming from one separate domain - explicit.bing.net.

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UK - Digital Britain for Gamers: Age Ratings and tax breaks

(Guardian)
Two issues raised in Lord Carter's review affect the games industry in particular First, there is some suggestion that the UK Government will support a tax breaks system like the ones already in place in Canada and South Korea. While the tax breaks are only alluded to in the Digital Britain document, many insiders are cautiously celebrating the possibility of implementation. Second, and more controversially, the Government has chosen to back the PEGI system of self-regulation rather than the homegrown, government-affiliated, top-down BBFC's. A long debate has been raging behind the scenes for several years between the two regulation bodies, and many in the industry will welcome the decision. Although less well-recognised in the UK, the PEGI scheme is a pan-European, independent opt-in facility backed by 28 countries. BBFC have not responded well. see Digital Britain: UK to implement PEGI system for video games classification (Daily Telegraph).

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06 June 2009

JP - New Service from OCN Provides Children with Safer Internet

(Press Release)
Customers of NTT Communications' "OCN" Internet access service can take advantage of a new offering to make home computers and the Internet safer for their children. The service, named "OCN Kids Care," was launched in response to children's increasing access to potentially harmful sites on the Internet. The service not only allows parents to set rules for Internet usage and then change settings remotely if necessary, it also helps to create a transparent atmosphere in which parents and their children can openly discuss Internet safety issues.

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07 May 2009

Apple May Offer Age Controls for iPhone Apps

(New York Times)
New details about the parental control system coming to the App Store. All iPhone applications will be rated in one of four age categories: 4+, 9+, 12+, or 17+. When Apple announced the coming 3.0 release of its iPhone software, it referred to parental controls for apps. I assume the new system will allow Apple to accept more applications that it now rejects, on the theory that parents will be able to limit children from getting applications that can give them access to raunchy or violent material. (The iPhone and iTouch already offer a way for parents to block the devices' Web browser and YouTube viewer.)

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AU - ACMA releases report on internet filtering technologies and online safety measures

(INHOPE)
On 22 April 2009 the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released its second report on international developments in internet filtering technologies and other safety initiatives. The report finds that the most comprehensive method of addressing online safety and security risks is to target multiple points along the supply chain for internet content and services.

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30 April 2009

JP Only 1 in 3 Japanese teens have installed mobile filters

(Filtering Facts)
Last year, Japan announced a plan to provide filters for mobile devices used by minors. Since April 1, cell phone companies have been obligated to provide filters on cell phones sold to youth under 18 years of age. Though parents are not punishable under the law, they are required to inform cell phone companies if a phone they are purchasing is for use by a child. Only one in every three Tokyo middle school students has activated filters on their cell phones that block access to sites considered harmful to youth, a police survey has found. Among the reasons given by students for not activating the filters, "Because my parents have not told me to" was highest at 42.1 percent. Likewise, the top reason for activating the filters was "Because my parents told me to" at 64.6 percent.

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16 March 2009

EU - Protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games

(EP)
Adoption in plenary of a resolution based on an own-initiative report drafted by Toine MANDERS (ALDE, NL) welcoming the Commission Communication on the protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games. The report calls on the Commission and Member States, in cooperation with the industry, to explore the merit of developing a 'red button' which can be included on (mobile) consoles or game devices and computers and which disables a certain game or which can control access to a game during certain hours or certain parts of the game. It also calls for additional efforts in this respect, including the possibility of integrating an acoustic warning into the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system, and counts on the professional game sector systematically to integrate access models for online games in order to ensure that minors are not exposed to harmful content online.

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05 March 2009

US - FCC launches Inquiry into advanced blocking technologies

(FCC)
This Notice of Inquiry ("NOI") implements the Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007, adopted December 2, 2008, which directs the Commission to initiate a proceeding within 90 days after the date of enactment to examine "the existence and availability of advanced blocking technologies that are compatible with various communications devices or platforms." Congress defined "advanced blocking technologies" as "technologies that can improve or enhance the ability of a parent to protect his or her child from any indecent or objectionable video or audio programming, as determined by such parent, that is transmitted through the use of wire, wireless, or radio communications." Congress's intent in adopting the Act was to spur the development of the "next generation of parental control technology." In conducting this proceeding, we will examine blocking technologies that may be appropriate across a wide variety of distribution platforms and devices, can filter language based upon information in closed captioning, can operate independently of pre-assigned ratings, and may be effective in enhancing a parent's ability to protect his or her child from indecent or objectionable programming, as determined by the parent. see also version published on Scribd and Adam Thierer's compilation of major filings.

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27 February 2009

UK - BBFC: 74% of parents want independent ratings

(GamesIndustry.biz)
The BBFC has published the results of a survey revealing that three quarters of British parents are concerned about the content of videogames and want independent ratings. The survey, conducted by YouGov for the BBFC, revealed that 79 per cent of parents believe that videogames affect children's behaviour, 74 per cent wanted games to be regulated by an independent body, and 82 per cent felt it would be beneficial if videogames used the same ratings as films and DVDs. "This poll clearly shows parents support a regulatory system for games that is independent of the industry and UK based, reflecting UK sensibilities and sensitivities," said David Cooke, director of the BBFC. See also ELSPA: 'PEGI is still the right solution for child safety' (MCV) and Why the BBFC gaming survey is hokum (TechRadar)

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12 February 2009

EU - European Parliament report backs video games for children

(BBC)
Video games should have a "red button" parents can press to disable inappropriate games, says a report. Drafted by a European parliament committee, the report backs games for children but says parents need help policing how and when they are played. The committee said games have a "broadly beneficial effect" on the mental development of children. The report comes as research shows that more than half of European children are unsupervised when using computers. The report backed the European Pan European Game Information system (PEGI) and called for it to be strengthened and win more support from member nations.

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14 January 2009

US - Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies

(Berkman Center)
Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States. The Internet Safety Technical Task Force was created in February 2008 in accordance with the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking and MySpace. The scope of the Task Force's inquiry was to consider those technologies that industry and end users - including parents - can use to help keep minors safer on the Internet.

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27 December 2008

UK - Website age ratings 'an option'

(BBC)
Film-style age ratings could be applied to websites to protect children from harmful and offensive material, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said. Mr Burnham said the government was looking at a number of possible new internet safeguards. He said some content, such as clips of beheadings, was unacceptable and new standards of decency were needed. He also plans to negotiate with the US on drawing up international rules for English language websites. Mr Burnham, a father of three young children, believes internet service providers should offer child-friendly web access.

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19 December 2008

US - Study by Parents Television Council Finds YouTube Filtering Lacking

(Filtering Facts)
Parents Television Council has just released a study of YouTube's filtering. extremely graphic content and harsh profanity are just a click away for kids entering seemingly innocent search terms on YouTube. The PTC's study not only analyzes content in 280 of the most popular YouTube videos, but also takes into account the text commentary and advertisements that were available alongside the videos. The 20 highest-ranked YouTube videos from each of the site's most popular search terms yielded an extraordinary amount of graphic and adult-themed content. David Burt, who runs the Filtering Facts blog, comes to simlar conclusions. He found video clips already tagged by YouTube as adult content - but YouTube's filter doesn't catch them. This compares unfavourably with Google text search and Google image search using "strict filtering".

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09 December 2008

EU - Improvement in filtering tools

The new SIP Bench study on filtering tools shows that overall tools have improved over the last three years and have become easier to install. During the last year of this three-year project, Deloitte once again carried out the SIP Benchmark testing via a comprehensive study of 26 tools for parental control. This benchmark analyses how effectively these technical solutions protect children aged 6 to 16 against harmful content on the Internet. About 140 parents and teachers from various European countries were involved in the study. In addition to these "real life" testers, an Internet laboratory was set up to conduct thorough testing under identical conditions. In general, we observe a very positive trend in filter accuracy.However an number of filters detect more potentially harmful content at the expense of unduly overblocking harmless content.

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23 November 2008

US - Enhancements to game ratings

(Net Family News)
The US body responsible for videogame ratings - the Entertainment Software Rating Board - are making them a little more useful to parents. They've created a mobile ratings site for cellphones (http://m.esrb.org), CNET reports. So parents can now access a rating even at point-of-purchase, when pressure from those kid gamers can be intense and a little right info at the fingertips can help. Both the mobile site and the regular Web one also have rating summaries.

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16 November 2008

Age verification, Cross media rating and classification and Social networking

(Europa)
The European Commission launched a public consultation on Age verification, Cross media rating and classification and Online social networking. Download summary report on social networking (155 KB)and an expert report on age verification solutions and cross media rating and classification, including the results of the public consultation on these topics.

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28 October 2008

UK - Games ratings row gets colourful

(BBC)
The video games consortium Elspa has proposed a solution to the ongoing games ratings controversy. Elspa supports a 'traffic-light'-type system as part of its voluntary ratings code that it says is more effective. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) dismissed the effort, saying their own colour-coded approach is well-established. A government consultation on the matter due to finish in November aims to agree a legally enforceable ratings scheme.

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02 October 2008

Internet Safety Technical Task Force meeting roundup

(Harvard Law School)
September 23-24, the Berkman Center hosted a day and a half-long public meeting of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force (ISTTF) at Harvard Law. Materials and media from the meeting - including technology submissions, presentation slides, and video - are being made available for those who were unable to attend or watch the webcast.

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01 October 2008

The ISTTF: Chicken or egg?

(NetFamilyNews)
by Anne Collier. "ISTTF" stands for Internet Safety Technical Task Force, the result of an agreement last January between 49 state attorneys general (minus Texas) and MySpace. The emphasis is on the word "technical," because the attorneys general basically charged the task force, of which I'm a member, with reviewing technical solutions to online youth risk - "age verification" technology being their stated predetermined solution of choice. Why? Because they're law enforcement people. They deal with crime - not all these other subjects that have come up in online-youth and social-media research - so they probably feel that this is all about crime and technology, so some technology that separates adult criminals from online kids, or that somehow identifies every American on the Web, is what will make the Internet safe for youth. See also Age Verification Debate Continues; Schools Now at Center of Discussion (Progress & Freedom Foundation) by Adam Thierer and State attorneys general push online child safety snake oil by Chris Soghoian.

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21 September 2008

2008-09-23 US, Cambridge MA - Internet Safety Technical Task ForceOpen Meeting

(ISTTF)
Tuesday, September 23, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Wednesday, September 24, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm Ropes Gray Room, Pound Hall, Harvard Law School. The Internet Safety Technical Task Force (ISTTF) is a group of Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, academics, and technology companies that have joined together to identify effective tools and technologies to create a safer environment on the Internet for youth. It was created in February 2008 in accordance with the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced by the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking and MySpace in January 2008. The scope of the ISTTF?s inquiry is to consider those technologies that industry and end users can utilize to keep children and youth safe on the Internet, with a focus on preventing harmful contact with adults and with other minors. On September 23rd and 24th, 2008 the Berkman Center will host a day and a half-long public meeting of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force at Harvard Law School. This meeting will be an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the work of the Task Force, to explore the different technology-related problems and solutions under consideration, and to raise questions and share ideas. The day's agenda will include over a dozen presentations of youth online safety solutions based on a range of technologies, including age verification, biometrics, filtering and auditing, text analysis, and combinations thereof. Additionally, on Wednesday, September 24, participants are invited to hear presentations by leading social network sites regarding recent measures they have undertaken to make their sites safer for youth.

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09 September 2008

UK - Computer games industry calls for PEGI ratings system

(Guardian)
The computer games industry has again called for the UK government to choose PEGI, the voluntary Pan-European Games Information ratings, instead of a proposed hybrid system, as it seeks to implement the findings of this year's Byron report on the safety of children online.

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31 July 2008

UK - Row over video games ratings plan

(BBC)
Planned changes to the way video games are rated have sparked a row about who should be in charge of giving games their official age classification. Culture Minister Margaret Hodge has announced a consultation on whether the ratings for games should replicate the system for movies. But games makers oppose plans, backed by MPs, for the British Board of Film Classification to rate games as well. The games industry wants its own voluntary code to be made official.

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21 July 2008

UK fails to bar internet access to child porn

(Observer)
Some UK households could access websites known to host images of child sex abuse despite a government pledge made two years ago to stop access to paedophile sites. Last night a coalition of leading children's charities, including Barnardo's, the NSPCC and National Children's Homes, described the situation as 'completely unacceptable'. They have written to the Home Office minister in charge of crime reduction, Vernon Coaker, urging him to take immediate steps to ensure all telecom companies offering internet access block customers from being able to see images that in some cases show children as young as a year old being sexually abused. Around 5 per cent of consumer broadband connections can access the images because their internet service providers (ISPs) chose not to subscribe to a scheme introduced by the Internet Watch Foundation to bar known paedophile websites. See open letter to Vernon Coaker.

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18 July 2008

2008-09-25 EU, Luxembourg, Safer Internet Forum 2008

(Europa)
This year's Safer Internet Forum will take place in Luxembourg on September 25 and 26. The Forum is open for stakeholders from NGOs, governments, researchers, industry representatives, including Internet Service Providers, mobile network operators, social networking sites, software developers. The European Commission is organising 4 different experts' panels on the following topics: September 25: Social Networking and Children, Age verification; September 26: What do we know about Children's use of online technologies?, Media Rating - towards pan-European cross media rating and classification schemes. In order to prepare the Safer Internet Forum discussions, the European Commission has launched in June 2008 a public consultation to get input from all relevant stakeholders. Contributions from those interested are expected until July 31 2008.

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09 July 2008

UK - Divide on games industry ratings

(BBC)
A row has broken out between the games industry and the UK's content classifiers over who should regulate video games in the future. UK games industry body Elspa has called on the government to replace the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) role's in assessing video games. The industry favours its own voluntary system, called Pegi. see also BBFC vs PEGI debate rolls on (GamesIndustry.biz).

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03 July 2008

US - Berkman Center Announces Request for Technical Submissions Related to Child Safety on the Internet

(Berkmann Center)
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University announces a Request for Technical Submissions as part of the work of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force. The Task Force, comprised of leading Internet businesses and organizations, is focused on identifying effective online safety tools and technologies that can be used by companies and individuals across multiple platforms. The Request for Technical Submissions asks companies, non-profits, and individuals with technologies relevant to child safety online to submit a detailed description that will enable a thorough review by the Task Force?s Technical Advisory Board.

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21 June 2008

EU - Public consultation on Age Verification, Cross Media Rating and Classification, and Online Social Networking

(Europa)
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on age verification, cross media rating and classification, and online social networking. The purpose of the public consultation is to gather the knowledge and views of all relevant stakeholders (including public bodies, child safety and consumer organisations, industry). The gathered information will be fed into this year's Safer Internet Forum 2008, which will be dedicated to the above mentioned topics. The consultation will be open until 31 July 2008.

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15 June 2008

FR- Nadine Morano préconise une norme Afnor pour les logiciels de contrôle parental

(vnunet.fr)
A l'Atelier "Protection de l'Enfant" organisé par la secrétaire d'Etat en charge de la Famille dans le cadre des Assises du Numérique, la ministre a déclaré qu'"Il n'y aurait pas de confiance dans l'économie numérique sans protection des enfants sur le Web" et que cette protection devait reposer, "comme une voie ferrée, sur deux rails parallèles : le filtrage des sitespédopornographiques et les logiciels de contrôle parental." Sur le premier point, un accord doit être trouvé entre les différents ministères concernés et les fournisseurs d'accès. Une étude de faisabilité technique a été confiée au Forum des droits sur l'Internet. Nadine Morano a d'ailleurs rappelé son engagement à ce que ces fameux logiciels de filtrage atteignent un meilleur taux de performance. Un dispositif plus lourd d'élaboration du cahier des charges de ces logiciels de contrôle - passant peut-être par une norme Afnor - et de contrôle de ces outils - le processus d'évaluation resterait à définir - devrait être prochainement étudié avec les FAI. Enfin, la ministre a promis pour la fin de l'année une grande campagne audiovisuelle et multimédia de sensibilisation des parents aux dangers d'internet pour les jeunes.

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04 June 2008

US - Verizon offers free parental controls

(CNET)
Verizon Communications plans soon to offer online parental controls for free to all its broadband customers in an ongoing effort to keep kids safe on the Net. Specifically, Verizon plans to offer parents the ability to block their children from viewing selected content. The company is also offering application filters so parents can limit access to certain applications. And Verizon is giving parents the ability to designate specific time periods when the Internet or certain functions can and cannot be used.

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26 May 2008

FR - Protection des enfants sur internet : trois pistes d´actions proposées aux professionnels

(Ministère du travail, des relations sociales et de la solidarité)
Nadine MORANO, Secrétaire d´Etat chargée de la Famille, propose trois actions aux professionnels de l´Internet pour protéger les familles et les enfants: interdire l´accès aux sites illégaux pédopornographiques; accroître les performances des logiciels de contrôle parental des FAI; faire en sorte que les parents soient davantage informés des performances des logiciels de filtrage des FAI. voir aussi Une visite à Londres sur la thème de la protection des enfants sur internet

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21 May 2008

UK - Net downloads to get age ratings

(BBC)
Age ratings for downloaded video content and video games are to be introduced in the UK. Overseen by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the scheme will see certificates appear on websites, via set-top boxes and portable players. Disney, Warners and Fox have signed up to the scheme with other "key industry figures... poised to join the scheme". see also Censors go online to clean up murky world of digital videos (Times).

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14 May 2008

US - Age verification not the 'killer app'

(Net Family news)
ConnectSafely.org was invited to join the Internet Safety Task Force that is part of MySpace's settlement with 49 state attorneys general. One of the Task Force's main goals is to see if age verification technology can be used to protect minors. The Task Force's first meeting - was attended by Internet companies including MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, AOL, Google, and Yahoo, age- and identity-verification companies, and online-safety organizations. Larry Magid wonders if such technology would be helpful even if it could be employed. See his commentary at CBSNEWS.com.

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12 May 2008

Peer-to-Peer Filters: Ready for Internet Prime Time?

(Internet Evolution)
by Carsten Rossenhövel. Internet Evolution and SNEP (the Syndicat National de l?Édition Phonographique, an organization that represents the interests of the French music industry), commissioned an independent test lab, the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC), to test the functionality and performance of P2P filters. EANTC invited 28 vendors of P2P filtering products to participate in the evaluation. 0nly five agreed to take part, and only two vendors were brave enough to agree with publication of the results.

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29 April 2008

DE - Gutachten: Netzsperren greifen in Grundrechte ein

(Heise)
Sperrverfügungen für Inhalte im Internet "greifen in erheblichem Umfang in die Meinungsfreiheit der Inhaltsanbieter, die Informationsfreiheit der Nutzer sowie die Berufsfreiheit der Internetprovider ein." Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt das von der Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz (KJM) vorgestellte Gutachten zu Sperrverfügungen im Internet. Wegen der Grundrechtseingriffe und der möglichen Beeinträchtigung der technischen Funktion des Netzes müssten "schwierige rechtliche Abwägungen und Verhältnismäßigkeitsprüfungen im Einzelfall" den Maßnahmen immer vorangehen, heißt es in dem Gutachten weiter. Der KJM-Vorsitzende Wolf-Dieter Ring sagte, die KJM habe bewusst in den vergangenen fünf Jahren keine Verfügung erlassen. Vielmehr setze man auf einen Dialog mit den Zugangsanbietern, damit diese selbst Verantwortung übernähmen und Inhalte auf freiwilliger Basis sperrten.

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27 April 2008

UK - How video games are rated

(BBC)
Given that the average gamer is aged 23 or above, it's perhaps no surprise that a lot of games are rated over-18 only. But who are the guardians of taste and decency and how do they decide a videogame's age rating? In the UK, video games are classified by two bodies - the Pan European Game Information system (Pegi) and the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) - both of which have overlapping roles.

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20 April 2008

UK - Standard adopted for filtering tools

(BSI)
The Kitemark for Child Safety Online has been launched with the Home Office and Ofcom to provide consumers - especially parents - reassurance that their children will not be subjected to undesirable web content. Manufacturers of filtering, monitoring and blocking applications can get their products certified against the Kitemark standard and those that pass the tests will be able to display the Kitemark symbol on their products. Parents will be able to see clearly and quickly which products will give their children the most effective protection whilst online. The Kitemark for Child Safety Online has been developed through a collaboration between BSI (the UK's National Standards Body), the Home Office, Ofcom and representatives from ISPs and application developers.

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08 April 2008

CoE - Recommendation on Internet filters

Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)6 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to promote the respect for freedom of expression and information with regard to Internet filters (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 26 March 2008 at the 1022nd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

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06 April 2008

UK - Videogame retailers support Byron Review, says Byron

(Register Hardware)
Psychologist Dr Tanya Byron has told a meeting of videogame publishers that most retailers support the idea of giving the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) a bigger role over game classification.

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30 March 2008

UK - Video games ratings face overhaul

(BBC)
Video game ratings need to be overhauled to make them easier for parents and children to understand, a UK government-backed review has said. Carried out by psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, it says more games need to be rated by official bodies. It calls for the creation of a UK body to draw up and oversee a national strategy to keep children safe online. It also recommends that new PCs be sold with software that will help prevent children seeing harmful online content. See also Government to create child internet safety council (OUT-LAW News).

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US - Safer surfing for the kids

(FT)
Start-up KidZui have come up with a radically different approach that combines elements of social networking and fun avatars to create a safe web surfing experience for children aged three to 12. Instead of blacklisting bad websites, the KidZui service, which is built on top of standard browser technology, effectively "whitelists" the good ones - which have been identified and vetted by real people.

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22 March 2008

Business on the Hotseat Over Net Censorship

(Michael Geist)
In the mid-1990s, John Gilmore, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, coined the phrase "the Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." A growing number of countries seem determined to challenge Gilmore's maxim. China is the best known, having implemented both a massive content filtering system that exerts control over external content and demanded that foreign Internet firms establish Chinese-versions of their services that abide by the government's requirements. China's censorship system may be the most extensive, but it is not alone. The University of Toronto's OpenNet Initiative, a world leader in tracking state-sponsored Internet censorship, recently co-published Access Denied, a book that highlights its pervasive growth.

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20 March 2008

Online games and the pre-teen killers

(Times)
Blog by David Hutchinson. I have been playing online with my Xbox. The game I've been playing the most is Call Of Duty 4, which has a 16+ rating. I wonder about the whole age rating thing. The Xbox has a plug-in headphone/microphone set. Many of the players appear to be boys who can't even be into their teenage years who shout insults in their pre-adolescent high pitches. I want parents to enforce game restriction ages, so I can enjoy an evening gaming and even if I still come last, at least it will be last among my peers.

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17 March 2008

CN - China blocks media due to Tibet unrest

(Guardian)
The Chinese government has cracked down on international media coverage of the unrest in Tibet, blocking websites and censoring the local feeds of broadcasters including BBC World and CNN. China's internet clampdown came over the weekend, following the outbreak of widespread unrest and violence in Tibet last week, and has hit websites including Yahoo, YouTube and Guardian.co.uk.

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03 March 2008

US - CDT skeptical participants in Internet Safety Technical Task Force

(CDT)
The Center for Democracy & Technology announced its participation in the newly formed Internet Safety Technical Task Force, created to examine technologies that might be used to protect children from inappropriate material or contacts on the Internet. Said CDT President Leslie Harris. "CDT is pleased to take its place at this important table. However, while we look forward to a thorough and rigorous study of the issues, our participation comes with a healthy dose of skepticism." CDT believes that technology tools in the hands of parents are a key part of the online safety landscape; however, technologies, such as age verification, that put Internet companies in the role of gatekeeper, raise a host of legal and policy questions.

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02 March 2008

FR - Dailymotion : la technologie de filtrage Signature entre en scène

(ZDNet.fr)
Dailymotion annonce le déploiement généralisé de la technologie Signature sur tous ses sites dans le monde. En octobre dernier, le site français de partage de vidéos a passé un accord avec l'Institut national de l'Audiovisuel (Ina), créateur de ce système de protection des contenus audiovisuels. Fonctionnant à partir d'une base d'empreintes numériques, il a été développé en interne par l'organisme public. Signature reconnaît et bloque la mise en ligne de vidéos piratées sur les sites de diffusion tels que Dailymotion.

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ISP "Voluntary" / Mandatory Filtering

(libertus.net)
by Irene Graham. This page contains information about ISP-level filtering systems implemented, by various ISPs in various countries, to prevent accidental access to child sexual abuse material on web pages/sites. It has been researched and produced in the context of the Australian Federal Labor Government's 2008 "plan" to mandate that Australian ISPs block access to a vastly larger type and quantity of web pages.

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01 March 2008

Details emerge on YouTube block

(BBC)
Pakistan has rejected claims that it was responsible for blocking global access to the YouTube video clip site. YouTube was hard to reach this week following action by Pakistan to block access inside its borders for its hosting of a "blasphemous" video clip. Analysis suggests the block was taken up by net hardware that routes data effectively cutting off the site.But a spokeswoman for Pakistan's telecoms authority said the problem was caused by a "malfunction" elsewhere. See also Blocked YouTube (Economist).

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US - Berkman Center will head Internet Safety Technical Task Force.

(Press Release)
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School will head a newly formed Internet Safety Technical Task Force. The Task Force, comprised of leading Internet businesses and organizations, will focus on identifying effective online safety tools and technologies that can be used by many companies across multiple platforms. The Task Force will evaluate a broad range of existing and state-of-the-art online safety technologies, including a review of identity authentication tools to help sites enforce minimum age requirements. The Task Force is a central element of the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by MySpace and the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking.

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27 February 2008

AU - Australian net filter at test phase

(Australian IT)
The federal Government's plan to have internet service providers filter pornography and other internet content deemed inappropriate for children is going full-steam ahead. 26 February was the deadline for expressions of interest to Enex TestLab, the Melbourne company evaluating internet service provider content filters on behalf of the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The trial will evaluate ISP-level internet content filters in a controlled environment while filtering content inappropriate for children, and will be followed by live field trials.

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26 February 2008

CN - "The Connection Has Been Reset?

(The Atlantic)
by James Fallows. China's Great Firewall is crude, slapdash, and surprisingly easy to breach. Here's why it's so effective anyway.

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24 February 2008

UK - Online content providers sign up to code of conduct to protect children

(Guardian)
Media companies including the BBC, Channel 4, Google, Yahoo and social-networking site Bebo have signed up to a new code of conduct, designed to give parents more information about the suitability for children of audiovisual content available on the internet and mobile phones. The new content information guidelines have been developed by industry and the government's independent advisory body the Broadband Stakeholder Group, backed by regulator Ofcom. For the first time, they extend the existing principles of broadcast consumer guidance across the wider new media industry. The guidelines do not cover user-generated content such as that found on YouTube or adverts. Instead, they call for all commercially generated content available online or on mobile phones to be flagged if it is unsuitable for particular age groups or contains content that may harm or offend. See Good Practice Principles on Audiovisual Content Information.

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EU - Results of benchmarking of filter tools

(SPI-BENCH)
During the second year of this three-year project, Deloitte once again carried out the SIP Benchmark testing via a comprehensive study of 30 tools for parental control. This benchmark analyses how effectively these technical solutions protect children aged 6 to 16 against harmful content on the Internet. About 150 parents and teachers from various European countries were involved in the study. In addition to these "real life" testers, an Internet laboratory was set up to conduct thorough testing under identical conditions. The results of the 2007 Benchmarking study have been compared with those of 2006 to reveal the evolution of these tools and the industry. Half of the 23 filters we tested both in 2006 and 2007 have improved their filtering capabilities relative to non-sexual content.

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FI - Controversy over police block list

(IDG)
In Finland, programmer Matti Nikki is under investigation for publishing a secret list of domains that authorities had allegedly censored in an effort to stop the spread of child pornography. Nikki published his list to prove the system was being abused, and was himself censored as a result. The Finnish Chancellor of Justice has received a complaint about police handling of the matter. The authorities distribute their list to the country's 20 largest ISPs, which then block access to the sites. The rest of Finland's 200 ISPs haven't implemented the technology, so protection is far from complete. see also Finnish internet censorship critic blacklisted (Wikinews) and Lapsiporno.info "Finnish law allows the police to list sites that fulfill the two criteria of containing child pornographic material (defined as being images that depict children in sexual context) and that are hosted abroad. However, lapsiporno.info is hosted in Finland and does not contain any child pornographic material." (Wikipedia). See also ENDitorial: Finnish web censorship.

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10 February 2008

PC Magazine on parental controls

(NetFamilyNews)
Parents might be interested in the latest reviews of filtering and monitoring software here at PC Magazine. The top-rated products are Net Nanny 5.6, Bsafe Online, Safe Eyes, and Webroot Child Safe. Note that these are "client" software products you install on the family computer. If you have the latest operating systems on Mac and Windows PCs, you can simply configure and use OS-level parental controls that are pretty feature-rich.

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30 January 2008

ISPs new role in network control

(BBC)
by Michael Geist. Industry has now dangerously shifted toward locking down the Internet. The Internet locks approach envisions requiring Internet service providers to install filtering and content monitoring technologies within their networks. ISPs would then become private network police, actively monitoring for content that might infringe copyright and stopping it from reaching subscribers' computers.

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27 January 2008

UK - Crackdown on sales of violent video games

(BBC)
Ministers want to make it easier for parents to protect their children from violent games by introducing a new, simpler classification system based on age ratings used by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Under the new scheme, it would become illegal for retailers to sell any video game to a child who was younger than the age rating on the box. At present, only the most violent games are regulated. The majority of games receive an age rating based on a voluntary system run by Pan-European Game Information (PEGI). PEGI ratings are not legally enforceable, however.

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17 January 2008

UK - Government continues to pressure ISPs for Internet filtering

(EDRI-gram)
On 8 January 2008, at the launching of the government consultation on new copyright exceptions, Lord Triesman, the UK minister for intellectual property, threatened the ISPs with the introduction of new legislation to force them to block illegal filesharing in case they cannot find a voluntary agreement together with the music and film industries by the end of summer.

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US - Should AT&T police the Internet?

(CNET News.com)
AT&T has said it is testing filtering technology that will look for copyrighted material. But should the company be acting as Internet cop?

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09 January 2008

AU - Commentators query plan to filter child porn

(The Australian)
Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy faces an uphill struggle in his plans to increase internet censorship by boosting the official blacklist from a puny 1000 web pages to many millions of banned websites. Industry commentators say the task may be beyond the capabilities of filtering mechanisms and procedures, and it would be impossible to block all such material. Senator Conroy will seek to halt access to child pornography, X-rated and violent material for all home users through mandatory filtering by internet service providers.

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30 December 2007

AU - Onus on providers to clean up web content

(Courier-Mai)
Every Australian with an internet connection could soon have their web content automatically censored. The restrictions are planned by the Federal Government to give greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites. Under the plan, all internet service providers will have to provide a "clean" feed to households and schools, free of pornography and other "inappropriate" material. Australians who want uncensored access to the web will have to contact their internet service provider and "opt out" of the service.

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01 December 2007

News Web Sites Seek More Search Control

(AP)
The desire for greater control over how search engines index and display Web sites is driving an effort launched by leading news organizations and other publishers to revise a 13-year-old technology for restricting access. Currently, Google, Yahoo and other top search companies voluntarily respect a Web site's wishes as declared in a text file known as "robots.txt," which a search engine's indexing software, called a crawler, knows to look for on a site. The formal rules allow a site to block indexing of individual Web pages, specific directories or the entire site, though some search engines have added their own commands. The proposal unveiled by a consortium of publishers, known as Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP), seeks to have those extra commands ? and more ? apply across the board.

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Parents the winner in Leopard, Vista showdown

(CNET News.com)
In a showdown of new parental controls in Apple's Leopard versus Microsoft's year-old Vista, there's one clear winner - the parent. Apple's newest operating system Leopard comes with a slick set of child controls. New settings help parents manage a child's time online, block use of certain Web sites or applications like instant chat or iTunes, and watch over what kids do and who they communicate with when Mom and Dad aren't around. Neither Leopard nor Vista parental controls address the increasing mobility of devices in the home. More and more kids use handheld devices with built-in Web browser and Wi-Fi capabilities, making it possible for them to go online nearly anywhere without supervision.

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18 October 2007

Filter this: new YouTube filter greeted by concerns over fair use

(Ars Technica)
After months of threats, pleadings, and lawsuits from content owners, YouTube finally rolled out its video content identification system. Consumer groups aren't quite as thrilled about the news as are content owners, however. Even content owners might turn out to be a bit wary. The new system isn't magic; it requires that copyright holders submit copies of every piece of material that they want protected.

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16 October 2007

YouTube rolls out filtering tools

(BBC)
Video site YouTube is launching filtering tools to clamp down on the sharing of video without permission. The tools, called Video Identification, will block copyright material from appearing and spreading on the site. YouTube, which is owned by Google, is currently fighting a billion-dollar legal battle with Viacom over the spread of pirated files. The firm says it currently removes copyright works when it has been told of their existence on the website.

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29 September 2007

TK - Turkey blocks again YouTube

(EDRI-gram)
A Turkish court from the eastern city of Sivas decided on 18 September 2007 to order the ISPs to block the access to YouTube, considering that one of the video hosted there insulted Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish army.

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MM - Burmese junta tries to shut down internet and phone links

(Guardian)
The Burmese junta was desperately trying to shut down internet and telephone links to the outside world after a stream of blogs and mobile phone videos began capturing the dramatic events on the streets. In the past 24 hours observers monitoring the flow of information have noticed a marked downturn, with the reported closure of cybercafes and the disconnection of mobile telephones.

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AU - Government seeks to ban more websites

(PC World)
The Australian Government has tabled a bill that will increase the power of police to ban websites that they deem crime or terrorism related. The bill was tabled in the Senate, without notice. This bill proposes to amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to expand the black lists URLs that is currently maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to include crime and terrorism related websites hosted domestically and overseas.

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15 September 2007

US - Web ad blocking may not be (entirely) legal

(CNET News)
Advertising-supported companies have long turned to the courts to squelch products that let consumers block or skip ads: it happened in the famous lawsuit against the VCR in 1979 and again with ReplayTV in 2001. Tomorrow's legal fight may be over Web browser add-ons that let people avoid advertisements.

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09 September 2007

UK - anti-grooming software

(Guardian)
Adam Hildreth's website for teens made him millions and gave him the idea for his next venture: fighting online abuse. Now his anti-grooming software has put him in the child protection business. Once downloaded on the computer, if the software identifies a possible "grooming" conversation online a warning message appears on the screen advising the young person that he or she is involved in a potentially "dangerous" conversation. The software has the ability at the same time to alert the parent, either via email or text message, that a potential grooming incident has taken place.

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28 August 2007

US - Technology and Pornography

(Brigham Young University Law Review)
by Dawn C. Nunziato George Washington University Law School. In this Article, I scrutinize these attempts to use technology to remedy the problem of minors' access to harmful Internet content, focusing on the relationship between the efficacy of the technology and the constitutionality of the legislation at issue.

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26 August 2007

ISP-level filtering? No problem, says Nominum

(iTWire)
US software company, Nominum, claims that its technology is able to provide ISP level content filtering with 'sub-millisecond' delays, contrary to many claims that ISP level filtering would inevitably slow down response times for web surfers.

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AU - Student cracks Government's $84m porn filter

(Herald Sun)
A Melbourne schoolboy has cracked the Federal Government's new $84 million internet porn filter in minutes. Tom Wood, 16, said it took him just over 30 minutes to bypass the Government's filter. Tom, a year 10 student at a southeast Melbourne private school, showed the Herald Sun how to deactivate the filter in a handful of clicks.

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23 August 2007

US - Call For Better Age-Verification Methods

(BetaNews)
Attorneys General across the country banded together, calling on social networking sites to strengthen parental controls to keep minors from accessing questionable material on their sites. The efforts are being headed by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who worked previously to get MySpace to disclose the identities of sex offenders on its Web site, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. While both are working to have the companies voluntarily change their policies, they are also pushing for actual laws.

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04 August 2007

US legislation looks at web filtering

(vnunet.com)
The US has passed child safety legislation that could widen the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) powers to include the internet, according to constitutional campaigners.The Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007 (S.602) was passed by the Senate Commerce Committee and requires the FCC to do a study of internet filtering technologies. The research will include the 'existence and availability' of filtering technologies for audio and video content transmitted over 'wired, wireless, and internet' platforms, as well as other devices.

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01 August 2007

US - YouTube says content will be filtered this year

(OUT-LAW News)
Video sharing website YouTube hopes to filter out unauthorised copyrighted material by the end of the year, according to a lawyer for its owner, Google. He said that the company hoped to have its system in place by September or later in the autumn. Beck told a New York judge of the implementation timetable as part of a lawsuit being taken against it by content owners. Film and television company Viacom, music publisher Bourne and the English Premier League are suing YouTube and their cases have been combined.

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28 June 2007

US - Take Two: Manhunt 2 Gets Adults-Only Rating

(Wired)
Take Two has confirmed that the upcoming Manhunt 2, scheduled for release July 10 on PlayStation 2 and Wii, has been given a preliminary rating of Adults Only by the ESRB. see also Take-Two delays plans to distribute 'Manhunt 2' and Manhunt 2 Ban Fallout, Game Rated AO By ESRB.

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UK - Censors ban 'brutal' video game

(BBC)
British censors have banned a violent video game from the UK for the first time in a decade. The video game Manhunt 2 was rejected for its "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying", the British Board of Film Classification said. It means the Manhunt sequel cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK. see also A discussion of the BBFC's decision to ban Manhunt 2 (gamesindutry.biz) by Rob Fahey.

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27 June 2007

EU - Self regulation applied to interactive games : success and challenges

(RAPDI)
Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, ISFE Expert Conference, Brussels, 26 June 2007

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03 June 2007

UK - Pupils crack schools' internet safety filters | Students | EducationGuardian.co.uk

(Observer)
Thousands of schoolchildren have made it their mission to break through internet filters in schools meant to stop them surfing 'social network' websites such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook.

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23 May 2007

Global web censorship on the rise

(New Scientist)
The number of governments that routinely block web sites is increasing, according to the most comprehensive survey of internet filtering yet. Meanwhile, the same study suggests that techniques for blocking undesirable content are growing ever more sophisticated.

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21 May 2007

Global net censorship 'growing'

(BBC)
The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the Open Net Initiative suggests. The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering.

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09 May 2007

AU - Porn filters free from July

(ZDNet Australia)
Content filtering software from five vendors is set to become freely available in Australia from July as part of the government's program to combat offensive online content. The AU$93.3 million National Filter Scheme will see the vendors' software provided via free download from a government portal. The vendors will be determined by a request for tender issued last week.

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13 April 2007

CN - China Blocks LiveJournal

The Chinese government began blocking access to the popular blogging site LiveJournal, cutting off its citizens from the roughly 1.8 million blogs the service hosts. SixApart, the company behind LiveJournal, says there are 8,692 self-reported Chinese bloggers on the site, a number that's likely low since it's based on information volunteered in user profiles.

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11 April 2007

Websense extends parental controls to mobile surfing

(vnunet.com)
Websense has unveiled software that allows wireless operators to protect users from malware and protect minors from inappropriate internet content. The software, dubbed the Websense Wireless URL Categorisation Engine (WUCE), allows operators to add services such as customised parental controls, premium content offerings for subscribers, enhanced wireless security identification, as well as mobile advertising and marketing.

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08 April 2007

TK - Turkey to block 'insulting' Web sites

(AP)
A parliamentary commission approved a proposal allowing Turkey to block Web sites that are deemed insulting to the founder of modern Turkey, weeks after a Turkish court temporarily barred access to YouTube. Parliament plans to vote on the proposal, though a date was not announced. The proposal indicates the discomfort that many Turks feel about Western-style freedom of expression, even though Turkey has been implementing widespread reforms in its bid to join the European Union.

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04 April 2007

TH - Thailand blocks YouTube for clip mocking king

(Reuters)
Thailand's military-appointed government blocked access to video-sharing Web site YouTube after its owner, Google, declined to withdraw a video clip mocking the country's monarch. Communications Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom told Reuters he ordered a block of the entire site from Thailand after the ministry's attempts to block the offending page last week failed. See also YouTube tries to resolve Thai ban (BBC). YouTube executives said they would not take down material that did not violate policies but would show authorities how to block individual items.

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01 April 2007

Internet censorship, at home or state-run, is a political hot potato

(Guardian)
by Seth Finkelstein. Would you be surprised to hear US civil liberties groups arguing that internet censorship is cheap, easy, relatively effective and difficult to circumvent? While in reaction, the US government claimed that such efforts had an unacceptable amount of collateral damage? Yet that's what has been happening for more than a decade in litigation involving censoring the internet. While these arguments sometimes descend into a fog of statistics, the overall implications are important for public policy. In the UK, a different set of censorship issues has arisen with BT's Cleanfeed project, intended to block content that is illegal, as gathered by the Internet Watch Foundation.

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2007-05-18 UK, Oxford Global Internet Filtering Conference 2007

(OpenNet Initiative)
The OpenNet Initiative is holding its first public conference to discuss the current state of play of Internet filtering worldwide. The conference will be hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute and held at the University of Oxford on May 18, 2007. The conference is free of charge and open to the public. Results from the first global study of Internet filtering carried out by the OpenNet Initiative will be on the table for a day of discussion involving ICT development experts, speech and human rights advocates, journalists and bloggers, international laywers and scholars, and others interested in state responses to online information flows. We hope you will join us in exploring interpretations and implications of our data and helping to shape the OpenNet Initiative's evolving research agenda.

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25 March 2007

Boost for web content labelling

(Guardian)
Technology firm Segala is spearheading an initiative to help internet users identify trusted web content through a comprehensive labelling system. Irish-based Segala has been developing content labels for more than two years and is now in talks with major web organisations and publishers to roll out the service for a number of applications.

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11 March 2007

UK - Brown unveils classification system for new media

(Guardian)
A "labelling" system for media content is under way to help parents protect their children from unsuitable content in the digital age, Gordon Brown revealed. The chancellor said that as part of its responsibilities for content regulation and media literacy Ofcom, the industry regulator, will introduce common labelling standards providing information on the type of content, regardless of the medium concerned: cinema, TV, radio, computer games, or the internet. A Treasury spokeswoman was unable to confirm when the scheme will be introduced.

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18 February 2007

New Web safety institute unveiled

(CNet News.com)
The Internet Content Rating Association, a nonprofit aimed at labeling adult Web sites, have launched a new institute to promote kids safety on the Web. Called the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), it will broaden its work from the ICRA rating system to include the development and support of other kid-safe technologies, educational programs and public policy work.

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