ICRA Commercial Value Proposition
The Age of Freeflowing Digital Content
More than ever before, digital content now flows freely across national boundaries, media platforms and delivery devices. To date, attempts to regulate digital content, particularly on the Internet, have largely failed or set new restrictions on content providers and distributors. There is, however, a growing consensus that industry self-regulation leads to the best balance between the free flow of digital content and protecting children from potentially harmful digital content. ICRA, through its member companies, is at the forefront of industry efforts at self-regulation.
ICRA - Working To Develop A Safer Internet
ICRA is an international, non-profit membership organization with offices in the US and the UK, along with representatives in both Germany and Spain.
- ICRA promotes child protection and free speech rights through self-regulation of the digital content production and delivery industries.
- ICRA acts as a forum through which both policy and technical infrastructure are defined to help shape the way that the web and content distribution channels work.
- ICRA encourages digital media providers to describe their content using machine-understandable labels that empower end users to customize their multimedia experiences.
How It Works
The ICRA approach to Internet safety is divided into two core elements, Labelling and Filtering, which are the responsibilities of the content provider and the end user respectively.
- Objective Content Labelling. Content providers check a series of descriptors in a questionnaire format. Labels are generated and then integrated into the content provider's website and can cover all types of digital media. Labels are descriptive, rather than evaluative, containing objective descriptions of content, rather than, for example, age-based evaluations. Any type of online digital content can be labelled. The labels can also place content within its context (i.e. artistic, medical, educational, etc).
- Digital Content Filtering. Labels are encoded in a non-proprietary format and are thus available to any application. Internet users can download and install for free our innovative filtering tool, ICRAplus, from icra.org. Once installed, the filter 'reads' these labels, blocking or allowing content as defined by the user. Other filtering modules, such as Artificial Intelligence or URL blocklists, can be plugged into ICRAplus for a more robust solution. The system can be applied to all online resources, including movies and games, not just HTML web pages.
The ICRA system has been translated into three languages - French, German, and Spanish. ICRA's system is scalable across a wide range of platforms and media, including 3G mobile devices.
What Impact Has ICRA Had?
Over 100,000 websites worldwide have already self-labelled, including such brand names as Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo!, T-Online and Hustler, representing millions of web pages. ICRA now stands ready to take the next step to become the content labelling scheme for all digital content, regardless of platform or delivery mechanism.
Many industry leaders have taken up ICRA membership - which bestows a place on the ICRA Board of Directors, providing the opportunity to participate directly in ICRA's development. ICRA's membership base consists of first-class corporate citizens that demonstrate commitment to child safety online. ICRA's global membership base currently includes AOL Europe, CompTIA, BT Openworld, the GSM Association, MadeSafe, Microsoft, T-Online and Verizon.
What's Next For ICRA?
Due to the increasingly international nature of digital content and the plethora of media ratings schemes that exist, there is a growing requirement for a common labelling framework for digital content, which ICRA can provide. ICRA is uniquely positioned to be the common labelling framework that underlies a variety of age-based rating systems. ICRA will allow a content provider to label digital content once, and for that label to be mapped into whatever rating system is most appropriate for each distribution channel.
ICRA helps to address the growing phenomena of 'space-shifting', defined by industry leaders as: "moving content between devices". For instance:
- Broadcast TV clips can be played on cell phones
- Movies can be delivered via the internet and viewed on the PC
- Streaming media from an internet site can be displayed on a TV set
The need for a universal content labelling scheme that can be mapped to existing national or device-based rating systems becomes of great importance. For example, a video clip of the popular TV programme "24" could be rated TV-PG in the US when shown on a TV set with a V-chip, PG-13 when viewed as a trailer in a movie theatre, and even a third rating for consumers who view the content via a broadband-enabled cell phone.
What Can ICRA Membership Do For You?
Membership in ICRA conveys an extremely positive brand association and a commitment to 'choice over censorship'. The system affords adopters a positive, constructive response to challenges regarding the provision of adult digital content.
ICRA has been explicitly recognized through governmental bodies' white papers - such as Ofcom in the UK - as taking a leading role in reducing the need for state regulation.
ICRA can become the common thread in the public policy debate on issues such as indecency in the media in the US, common labelling for digital content in the UK, and a response to the recent youth protection programme in Germany. However, we can only achieve these things with significant backing from industry - companies like yours are the ones that have made ICRA the recognized leader in internet site labelling and will enable us to offer an alternative to heavy-handed, albeit well-intentioned, government regulation.
How You Can Work With ICRA
Your involvement is key to ICRA's success. In addition to corporate membership, there are many ways that you could support ICRA.
Webmasters are able to get their content labelled free of charge at icra.org. Alternatively, associate membership affords a number of benefits, including a high profile listing on ICRA's website along with priority access to technical support.
You might consider becoming an ICRA partner by integrating the ICRA system into your existing products. This could involve making your web-authoring, filtering or search products ICRA-compatible - for example Microsoft and ICRA jointly released an add-in for Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003 to enable site authors to simply add labels to their sites. Alternatively, you may consider how our own filter - ICRAplus - can be incorporated into your network.
How much does it cost to join ICRA?
|Membership categories||Annual subscription|
|Corporations (With more than 100 employees)||30,000|
|Corporations (Fewer than 100 employees)||15,000|
|Non-profit (More than 100 employees)*||30,000|
|Non-profit (Fewer than 100 employees)||5,000|
* ICRA Board may waive a portion of the fee
For details of Associate Membership, please see the appropriate link below.