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Verizon Foundation Delivers $70k Grant To ICRA, Supporting the Development of a Safer Internet

Grant Supports Global Labelling Organisation In Transition From PICS to RDF Standard, To Make Labels Apply To Wider Range of Digital Content

The Verizon Foundation has bestowed a grant of $70,000 on the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA), a global leader in promoting child protection and free speech rights through self regulation of the digital content production and delivery industries. The grant enables ICRA to make a technological leap from a labelling platform based on the PICS standard to RDF, a fundamental shift which will allow Internet webmasters and content providers for many other media platforms to label their digital content, thereby potentially making the Internet safer for children.

An international, non-profit membership organisation with offices in the US and the UK, along with representatives in both Germany and Spain, ICRA acts as a forum through which both policy and technical infrastructure are defined to help shape the way that the web works. 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.

As one of ICRAs core members, Verizon Communications sits alongside a global membership base of first-class corporate citizens that are each committed to child safety online - including AOL Europe, Bell Canada, BT Openworld, the GSM Association, IA Japan, MadeSafe, Microsoft, PAGi and T-Online.

Demonstrating its commitment to ICRA and the self-labelling concept, Verizon has labelled Verizon Online and other company sites.

ICRA's new RDF labelling system will deliver a number of key benefits for a wider range of applications than was previously possible - including the possibility of integration with RSS, blogs, wikis and shared bookmarks. Moreover, the new system is significantly simpler to implement across large scale systems.

Michael McKeehan, director, Internet & Technology Policy for Verizon said: "A self regulated labelling process is an idea the time for which has come. Digital content is being consumed across a wide range of devices - for example broadcast TV clips can now be played on cell phones and movies can be delivered via the Internet and viewed on the PC. We can't leave our children unprotected. Providing a system that supports a universal content labelling scheme that is mapped to existing national or device-based rating systems is essential."

Stephen Balkam, CEO of ICRA added: "More than ever before, digital content now flows freely across national boundaries, media platforms and delivery devices. Consequently we recognised the requirement to move towards RDF, which represents a modern technology with an active and growing body of support from a wide variety of industry players and academic researchers. ICRA is indebted to the Verizon Foundation for its generosity with this grant, which has been an enormous help in our work to make the Internet a safer place for children."


About Verizon
The Verizon Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications. In 2004, the foundation awarded more than 26,000 grants totalling over $70 million to charitable and nonprofit agencies that focus on improving literacy, computer and technology skills, and identifying domestic violence solutions. The foundation uses its resources in the United States and abroad to develop partnerships in technology and connect them with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, and the economically and socially disadvantaged. The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, an incentive program that last year encouraged Verizon employees to volunteer 528,000 hours in their communities and provided $37.6 million in combined contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations. For more information on the foundation, visit

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