Web sites could get cinema-style ratings: U.K. minister

Sat Dec 27, 2008 5:11am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - The kind of ratings used for films could be applied to Web sites in a bid to better police the Internet and protect children from harmful and offensive material, Britain's minister for culture has said.

Andy Burnham told The Daily Telegraph newspaper, published on Saturday, that the government was planning to negotiate with the administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to draw up new international rules for English language Web sites.

"The more we seek international solutions to this stuff -- the UK and the U.S. working together -- the more that an international norm will set an industry norm," the newspaper reports the Culture Secretary as saying in an interview.

Giving Web sites film-style ratings would be one possibility.

"This is an area that is really now coming into full focus," Burnham told the paper.

Internet service providers could also be forced to offer services where the only sites accessible are those deemed suitable for children, the paper said.

Any moves to censor the Internet would go to the heart of a debate about freedom of speech on the World Wide Web.

"If you look back at the people who created the Internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn't reach," Burnham told The Telegraph. "I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now."

He said some content should not be available to be viewed.   Continued...

 
<p>A woman browses web at an Internet cafe in Madrid May 23, 2008. The kind of ratings used for films could be applied to Web sites in a bid to better police the Internet and protect children from harmful and offensive material, Britain's minister for culture has said. REUTERS/Andrea Comas</p>