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22nd October 2004

QUATRO: The Online Quality Assurance Project Launched

Project partners

Pira International

ICRA - The Internet Content Rating Association

IQUA - The Internet Quality Agency

Web Mèdica Acreditada

ERCIM - European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (the European host of the W3C)

NCSR "Demokritos"

ECP.NL - eCommerce Platform for the Netherlands

University of Milan, Dipartimento di Informatica e Comunicazione (DICo)


A new project is being launched on 1st November under the European Union's Safer Internet Programme1 to help internet users find what they want, trust what they find, and avoid material they choose not to see. The Quality Assurance and Content Description project (Quatro) brings together 9 organisations from across Europe including labelling schemes, user advocacy groups, academics, technologists and publishers.

As the volume and variety of information, entertainment and services available online continues to grow, users find it increasingly difficult to get reliable, trusted content. Content providers find it increasingly difficult to reach their target users through all the poor quality information and services available online. The Quatro project will provide a system that makes it easier for providers and users to find each other.

There are several systems already in place that address these issues but they all use mutually incompatible standards. WMA provides a quality labelling system for medical sites in Spain and Latin America; IQUA promotes an international quality website labelling scheme while ICRA's system is effective at describing a website's content for child protection purposes.

Quatro will make it possible for content providers, search engines, filters and trustmarks to use a common system of exchanging and verifying information. Many of the necessary components already exist, but the new project will demonstrate how they can be combined for the benefit of providers and users alike. Quatro is strengthened by both technical and policy expertise from ERCIM (the European host of the W3C), NCSR "Demokritos", Università degli Studi di Milan and ECP.NL while Coolwave offers a commercial/practical application viewpoint.

At the end of the project, a search engine will be able to choose to show an icon next to its results to highlight which online shopping sites have a verified trustmark and/or content description. User applications will be able to interpret all the available data about a given website as a series of simple icons, and the system has the potential to aid the filtering of content for child protection and in the fight against spam.

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Quatro project links

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