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Microsoft Signs Licensing Agreement With ICRA

Agreement Enables Use Of Leading Global Labelling System

ICRA, the Internet Content Rating Association, has announced today that it has signed a licensing agreement with Microsoft Corporation enabling Microsoft to utilise the ICRA system in a range of products such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Frontpage.

Separately, Microsoft has made a financial contribution to ICRA in support of the ongoing work of the organisation, including development of ICRA's world-leading labelling system, a new vocabulary better able to meet the challenge of digital convergence, and continued outreach based on ICRA's commercial value proposition.

ICRA is an international, non-profit membership organisation with offices in the US and the UK, along with representatives in both Germany and Spain. ICRA's members include AOL Europe, Bell Canada, BT Openworld, Cable & Wireless, the GSM Association, IA Japan, MadeSafe, Microsoft, PAGi, T-Online and Verizon. 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. The ICRA system has been translated into six languages - French, German, Spanish, Italian and simplified and traditional Chinese.

Hemanshu Nigam, Microsoft's Director for Child Safe Computing in Windows Client, stated: "We are pleased to have completed this inbound licensing agreement with ICRA. Microsoft supports ICRA's ongoing work as part of our own efforts to help provide children and their trusted guardians with a safer and more secure computing environment."

Stephen Balkam, CEO of ICRA, added: "This agreement with Microsoft represents a landmark for ICRA, as it potentially enables our new labelling system to be made available via extremely high profile distribution channels on a global scale. With the help of Microsoft and our other members, ICRA will continue to develop online technologies that can deliver an ever more comprehensive child protection effort, along with a significantly improved means of self regulation to the digital media creation and distribution industries."

ICRA encourages digital media providers to describe their content using machine-understandable labels that empower Internet and digital content users to customise their online experience through installation and use of a filter set to each user's personal preferences. In addition to free web filters - such as ICRAplus - ICRA labels can also be read by other filtering tools, Internet browsers and search engines.

ICRA's new labelling system also incorporates an entirely revised questionnaire to reflect the ever-changing nature of digital content, allowing content providers to effectively describe the type of content published within its intended context, allowing medical content to be identified as separate from pornographic for example. Other new features include short-cut buttons to quickly generate labels for XXX and gambling sites.

ICRA's shift to RDF will also enable sophisticated online resource tools - such as search engines - to use the system to filter content based on the user's preferences, effectively directing people to the material they want, trusting what they find and blocking what they don't want for themselves or for their children. In linking with the semantic web initiative, the new ICRA system will also effectively encourage the incorporation of trust marks and other quality labels, further promoting a safer browsing experience for Internet users.

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Microsoft, MSN and Hotmail are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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