UK Culture Secretary wants film-style ratings to individual websites

By EDRi · January 14, 2009

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The UK Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has presented, in an interview with
The Daily Telegraph at the end of the last year, some new plans in adopting
to the web “new standards of decency”.

The Cabinet minister is planing to give film-style ratings to individual
websites and wants ISPs to offer parents “child-safe” web services. Because
Internet is a global nature, he plans to negotiate with Obama Administration
in order to drew up “international rules for English language websites.”

Burnham explained the present situation: “If you look back at the people who
created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space
that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff
seriously now. It’s true across the board in terms of content, harmful
content, and copyright. Libel is an emerging issue.”

He also added in a statement for BBC: “The internet is becoming a more and
more pervasive entity in all our lives and yet the content standards online
are not as clear as we’ve all been used in traditional media. I think we do
need to have a debate now about clearer signposting and labelling online
because it can be quite a confusing world, particularly for parents who are
trying to ensure their children are only accessing appropriate stuff.”

Richard Clayton from the EDRi-member FIPR has dismissed the UK Culture
Secretary plans and considered that as “a childlike hope that merely
wishing for something will make it come true.” He explains that all the
solutions have been discussed and dismissed in the past.

“ISPs have tried ‘child-safe’ services in the past and even those who still
keep their systems working hardly mention them in their adverts any more. I
thought that it was no longer a part of modern politics to force an industry
to make products that nobody actually wants to buy.”

Clayton also pointed the fact that online defamation was already considered
twice by the Law Commission and their main concerns centred around making
it harder for ISPs to be sued and addressing the issues of archives.

As regards the web labelling, he points the 10 years history of failure and
explains with the website of Mr Burnham’s own department:

“They have labelled their main website with the ICRA scheme. To their
credit, they have used more than just a blanket “innocuous” setting, albeit
they have clearly overdone it since a description of the minutiae of the
Gambling Act 2005 is still marked up as “gambling”, which may disappoint
anyone who was hoping to have a flutter.

Although the DCMS proudly displays the ICRA logo on their front page, they
haven’t been bothered to label any of their subsites, such as the Government
Art Collection, which contains images that some people might consider
indecent – such as this full frontal nude of a young boy.”

Despite all these problems, the European Union seems to support also in the
future these type of projects. Encouraging and assisting providers to
develop labelling is one of the actions funded under the new EU Safer
Internet programme 2009 – 2013.

A recent report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a working group
established by the 49 state attorneys general from US, to
look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has reached
some interesting conclusion. The report challenges some of the earlier
beliefs concluding that: “Social network sites are not the most common space
for solicitation and unwanted exposure to problematic content, but are
frequently used in peer-to-peer harassment, most likely because they are
broadly adopted by minors and are used primarily to reinforce pre-existing
social relations.”

The report also claims that “Minors are not equally at risk online. Those
who are most at risk often engage in risky behaviors and have difficulties
in other parts of their lives. The psychosocial makeup of and family
dynamics surrounding particular minors are better predictors of risk than
the use of specific media or technologies.”

Internet sites could be given ‘cinema-style age ratings’, Culture Secretary
says (27.12.2008)

Website age ratings ‘an option’ (27.12.2008)

Andy Burnham and the decline of standards (29.12.2008)

Andy Burnham and the decline of standards

Web content labelling (17.09.2007)

Web content labelling

EU Safer Internet programme 2009 – 2013

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 (31.12.2008)