Cinema-style ratings proposed for ‘offensive’ web sites

December 27th, 2008 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaLondon, Dec 27 (IANS) Britain’s culture secretary has mooted cinema-style age ratings for internet web sites to ensure against children accessing offensive and inappropriate online material.Culture Secretary Andy Burham said in an interview that he plans to approach the in-coming administration of Barack Obama in the US with proposals for international rules for English language web sites.

In Britain, these could mean forcing internet service providers such as BT, Tiscali, Sky and AOL to ­provide packages restricting access to web sites without an age rating.

Burham also proposes to compel web sites such as YouTube and Facebook to remove offensive material within a specified time after they have been alerted to it, and changing Britain’s libel laws to make it cheaper for people to sue publishers if they have been defamed online.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “It worries me - like anybody with children. Leaving your child for two hours completely unregulated on the internet is not something you can do. This isn’t about turning the clock back. The internet has been empowering and democratising in many ways but we haven’t yet got the stakes in the ground to help people navigate their way safely around what can be a very, very complex and quite dangerous world.”

He would like to first persuade the internet providers to voluntarily adopt the age restriction rules, adding that if they do not, legislation is the option. If things go his way, Burham would like the crackdown on the internet to begin in the new year, and he dismisses fears that what he proposes could also mean web censorship.

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