IT Companies Propose 'Net Rating System

A group of mainly European-based companies have formed an industry association with the goal of establishing and promoting a global Internet content rating system.

A group of mainly European-based companies have formed an industry association with the goal of establishing and promoting a global Internet content rating system.

The companies, including AOL Europe, British Telecommunications PLC, Cable & Wireless PLC, T-Online GmbH, Bertelsmann Foundation, Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp., have formed the nonprofit Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) in order to protect children and free speech rights simultaneously, the companies said in a statement issued here yesterday. The association is seeking additional members.

The system is to be based on the Recreational Software Advisory Council's RSACi content rating system, which evaluates content for nudity, sex, language and violence. The new system will be a voluntary self-rating one, which will use a rating mechanism already embedded in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser software as well as Netscape Communication Corp.'s Navigator browser.

In order to develop the system ICRA will consult with advocates for children and consumers as well as other interested parties.

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