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European Project Empowers Internet Users with the Release of ICRAplus

London/Madrid/Athens/Berlin/Washington DC, 11 November 2003

The multi national Project SIFT, funded by the European Commission under the Safer Internet Action Plan unveiled today the result of its 18 month research and development effort, ICRAplus. This new platform for content filtering is firmly rooted in self-labelling and user empowerment, whilst delivering unparalleled flexibility and choice.

ICRAplus combines filtering based on ICRA labels with a variety of different techniques such as content analysis by artificial intelligence agents, large scale databases of URLs and image recognition technologies in order to achieve more efficient filtering to protect children from potentially harmful Internet content while respecting freedom of speech on the Internet.

"We are delighted to see the release of ICRAplus", said ICRA CEO, Stephen Balkam. "Our commitment to empowering parents to protect their children online while protecting the free expression of content providers will be greatly enhanced with this new filtering platform."

ICRAplus itself has no extra modules and will be offered as a free download in its basic version. However, it is possible to plug in a much wider variety of extra modules. One such extra module is the Optenet solution. This efficient, cutting-edge technology for selection and filtering of Internet access recognizes a wide range of categories including pornography, promotion of drug use and racism.

"For OPTENET the release of ICRAplus represents one further step in attaining our Companyís mission to use the best software technology for the optimization of appropriate Internet usage in all areas, and especially in the protection of children", said OPTENETís Marketing Director Natalia Gůmez del Pozuelo.

Another optional module, FilterX, is a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence agent that has been trained to classify web pages in terms of their nudity and sexual content. "Intelligent technology has matured to the point that it can now migrate from research labs to every day use, empowering users in their fight against information overload", said Dr. C.D. Spyropoulos, Research Director at NCSR "Demokritos" in Athens, developers of FilterX. "ICRAplus, combining self-regulation with machine intelligence, is a step in the right direction.", an organization backed by the adult industry in Germany, maintains a substantial database of erotic websites and a module for use in ICRAplus that filters content by accessing this database is also available.

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About the SIFT Consortium
The SIFT Consortium is composed by the following organizations:

ICRA,the Internet Content Rating Association, an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to protect children from potentially harmful material on the Internet, whilst protecting the content providers' freedom of expression.

OPTENET, a European company founded in Spain, with the aim to use the best software technology for the optimisation of Internet usage, both for the protection of minors as well as to guarantee companies a professional Internet use.

The Internet Content Filtering Group of NCSR "DEMOKRITOS", which is a self-governing research organization, under the supervision of the Greek Government, has developed filtering software (FilterX) illustrating the application of innovative and efficient methods for multimedia document categorization.

The Safer Internet Action Plan promoting safety on the Internet is the European Unionís response to tackling the controversial issue of illegal, harmful and racist content on the Internet.

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