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ICRA Unveils New System To Make Internet Safer

Large, Complex Websites Now Able To Simply Identify Content Via Digital Labels, Encouraging Safer, Filtered Internet Browsing

ICRA (the Internet Content Rating Association) has unveiled a new labelling system, based on the RDF (Resource Description Framework) standard, making the process of labelling across large complex websites far simpler in order to encourage many more major online brands to label their sites and thereby make the Internet considerably safer for children.

The move from PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection) to the newer W3C RDF standard represents a fundamental shift in the technological architecture of the ICRA system. RDF is increasingly used in the latest web applications - such as RSS, blogs, wikis and shared bookmarks for example - and underpins the Semantic Web, which has been collectively defined by industry leaders, as "an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.1 "

Additionally, the new system 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.

Ultimately, ICRA's shift to RDF will also enable sophisticated online 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.

Stephen Balkam, CEO of ICRA commented: "RDF is a modern technology with an active and growing body of support from both the digital content production and distribution industries and academia. With digital content now flowing freely across national boundaries, media platforms and delivery devices, this new system will allow ICRA and its many industry partners and supporters to collectively to deliver a broader child protection effort than was previously possible along with a significantly improved means of self regulation to the industry on a global scale."

Stan Laurent, Managing Director, AOL Germany added: "ICRA's new labelling system released today is an important step in the industry's efforts to create a safer internet. We at AOL have long supported ICRA as part of a wider self-regulatory approach to safety and security and we look forward to working with ICRA to implement the system across our own sites."

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, 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.

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Supporting Quote:
German ISP Association, eco eV, acts as ICRA's Point of Presence in Germany. It's chairman Prof. Michael Rotert commented: "We are happy to see ICRA moving from PICS to RDF. This will make it much easier in particular for big portals to label their sites as it better matches the workflow of larger organisations. It's an important step towards making the ICRA system more efficient and better able to meet its aim of empowering parents to protect their children from potentially harmful content without limiting free speech and cultural diversity."


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