Web of Porn: Europe moves to protect children

A Europe-wide rating and filtering system designed to protect children by giving users control over what they look at on the Internet will be introduced early next year.

The Internet Content Rating for Europe (INCORE) -- made up of European consumer groups, ISPs and broadcasters -- was awarded the contract to develop the system in January. The system will use the electronic profiles on individual browsers coupled with electronic labelling of Web sites.

Secretary general of the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) Nicholas Lansman explains: "With material of an adult nature people should be able to see what they what. This system will provide them with a profile they can set to how they want. A liberal family may not object to a certain level of nudity, but not want anything of a violent nature. They will be able to set the filter accordingly. Web sites will clearly state what is on offer and this will be related directly to an individual's browser settings."

Interested parties such as churches, family organisations and civil rights groups will offer guidelines for what profiles should look like. "Users will choose a profile they respect," Lansman says. The key will be ease of use and a wide variety of settings, taking account of the cultural diversity within Europe. "Profiles will be customised dependent on cultural background, taking account of lesbian and gay sex, bad language and other issues," says Lansman.

With similar projects already underway in the US, Lansman hopes the INCORE project will eventually become an international standard. Details of how the system will work and when it will be available will be published early next year.

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