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ICRA and Verizon Continue Partnership to Make the Internet Safer for Children

Verizon Foundation

$70,000 Verizon Foundation Grant Will Help ICRA Educate Industry, Parents, Lawmakers on the Use of Labeling to Increase Effectiveness of Web Content Filters

WASHINGTON< D.C. 21 July 2006 - The Verizon Foundation has awarded a $70,000 grant to the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) to promote online safety for children.

The grant will fund efforts to encourage content providers to voluntarily label their Web sites; raise parental awareness of the benefits of labeling; and educate decision makers about the desirability of self-regulation of online content.

ICRA is a nonprofit organization designed to protect children from potentially harmful material online while preserving free speech on the Internet. Since 2002, Verizon has contributed more than $270,000 to support ICRA's efforts, joining other major Internet and communications companies in supporting one of the world's leading self-regulatory efforts on the Web.

"We are so grateful to the Verizon Foundation for providing us with the means to continue promoting Internet safety to those who need it most and to educate those who have the power to make the Internet safer for children," said ICRA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Balkam. "With the widespread use of Web-enabled mobile devices, it's more important than ever to raise awareness of self-labeling throughout the industry."

Last year, the Verizon Foundation supported a project headed by ICRA to implement a new method of organizing and labeling digital content that enables content providers, portals and Internet service providers to offer more effective filters for screening content on the Web.

"Internet safety is an issue that needs to be addressed on a variety of levels," said Michael McKeehan, director, Internet and technology policy for Verizon. "Our support of ICRA is just one of the many ways we are using technology to promote online safety and empower parents, students and educators. By educating the online community about the importance of self-labeling, together we can make the Internet a much safer place for children and families."

In addition to its financial contribution, Verizon also recently participated in a roundtable discussion on content rating, sponsored by ICRA and the Progress & Freedom Foundation and held in Brussels, Belgium. McKeehan will also be a panelist in a similar roundtable in New York City on Sept. 13.

ICRA is an international, nonprofit membership organization with offices in the United States and the United Kingdom, 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. Verizon Communications has been a member of ICRA for four years.

ICRA encourages digital media providers to describe their content using machine-understandable labels that empower Internet and digital content users to customize their online experience through installation and use of a filter that can be 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. More than 200,000 Web sites worldwide - including those of Verizon Online, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo - have already self-labeled their content or are working to complete that process.

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About the Verizon Foundation

Verizon delivers technology that touches life. The Verizon Foundation uses that technology and the foundation's financial resources to improve literacy and K-12 education; to support victims of domestic violence; and improve the delivery of health care. In 2005, the foundation awarded more than $74 million in grants to charitable and nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, which is one of the largest employee volunteer programs in the United States and responsible for 2 million hours of community service since 2000 and $35.6 million in combined contributions to nonprofits in 2005 alone.


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