LEEDS - Today the Internet Watch Foundation, a self-regulatory body supported by the UK government announced its consultation paper for the development of rating systems at a national level. According to an IWF press release, rating systems would "meet parents concerns about Internet content that is unsuitable for children."
Although the consultation document refers to national perspectives, the Internet Watch Foundation is planning to develop the rating systems together with its international partners at a global level under the INCORE project.
Following the launch of the Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) report, "Who Watches the Watchmen: Internet Content Rating Systems, and Privatised Censorship," which was critical of the development of rating systems by the IWF in November 1997, the representatives of both Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) and the Internet Watch Foundation had two meetings concerning the development of rating systems (one in December 97, the second one in January 98).
Yaman Akdeniz head of the CR&CL (UK) stated that:
"The purpose of our report was to raise public awareness which we succeeded in doing. But we wanted to take the IWF initiatives one step back. The real question to be put to the UK public should be - whether the rating systems should be developed at all rather than how to do them (as suggested by the current proposals)."
Yaman Akdeniz also stated that:
"With rating systems and the moral panic behind the Internet content, the Internet could be transformed into a family friendly medium, not more adventurous than the likes of the BBC. But it should be remembered that the Internet is not as intrusive as the TV and users seldom encounter illegal content such as child pornography."
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) will have a new section dealing with the IWF consultation process in which online users views on the IWF consultation document will be published. There will also be a reply by the IWF to the Who Watches the Watchmen Report and we are hoping to engage the concerned citizens with this important debate.
Notes for the Media:
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) press release is available at http://www.leeds.ac.uk/law/pgs/yaman/watch-iwf.html
Internet Watch Foundation consultation document - "Rating and Filtering Internet Content - A United Kingdom Perspective," is available at http://www.internetwatch.org.uk/rating.html. A press release on this document is available at http://www.internetwatch.org.uk/p030398.html.
Comments on the IWF consultation document should be sent to email@example.com with a subject line "Rating Report Comment." If you send a copy of your comments to Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), we will publish them online under a separate section - Replies to the IWF. Please send a copy of your replies to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) Report, Who Watches the Watchmen: Internet Content Rating Systems, and Privatised Censorship, which was launched in November 1997, is available at http://www.leeds.ac.uk/law/pgs/yaman/watchmen.htm.
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) has a section dealing with the regulation of child pornography on the Internet. It includes information about all UK cases involving child pornography. See http://www.leeds.ac.uk/law/pgs/yaman/child.htm.
UK Internet Service Providers Association Backs UK Government Review on Illegal and Harmful Content, 03 March, 1998.
Akdeniz, Yaman "Governance of Pornography and Child Pornography on the Global Internet: A Multi-Layered Approach," in Edwards, L and Waelde, C eds, Law and the Internet: Regulating Cyberspace, Hart Publishing, 1997, pp 223-241. See http://www.leeds.ac.uk/law/pgs/yaman/governan.htm.
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)
Mr Yaman Akdeniz
Address: Centre For Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT.
Direct Telephone: 0498-865116, dial (44)498 865116 if you are abroad.
Fax: 0113- 2335056
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) is a non-profit civil liberties organisation founded on January 10, 1997. Its main purpose is to promote free speech and privacy on the Internet and raise public awareness of these important issues. The Web pages have been online since July 1996. Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) started to become involved with national Internet-related civil liberties issues following the release of the DTI white paper on encryption in June 1996 and the Metropolitan Police action to censor around 130 newsgroups in August 1996. Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) recently criticised the attempts of the Nottinghamshire County Council to suppress the availability of the JET Report on the Internet.
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) covers such important issues as the regulation of child pornography on the Internet and UK Governments encryption policy. The organisation provides up-to-date information related to free speech and privacy on the Internet. Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) is a member of various action groups on the Internet and also a member of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (see <http://www.gilc.org>) which has over 30 member organisations world wide.
Last updated 03 March, 1998.