Parental Guidance advised

200px-BBFC_PG_2002.pngAs per the UK Government’s somewhat bizarre suggestion that websites could be given ratings for content, I thought I’d pre-empt the idea.

Seriously, how can this even work? The minister seems to think that he can implement this through negotiation with the incoming US Administration? Hmm!

So, anyway, I’m awarding my site a PG rating. Hope that’s reasonable. You never know what I might say around here, after all…

Update: check the request for comments by Tom Watson MP – at least one MP is demonstrating a little tech-savvy.

6 thoughts on “Parental Guidance advised”

  1. It won’t work in just the same way that ICRA, PICS and all the other multitude of incompatible content rating systems don’t work. Kids are too savvy to keep those trivial browser based controls active. The only way to block content for kids is with a “net nanny” product with a strong parental control password (if folks want to bother).

    The better way is for parents to take an interest in what their kids are doing. It’s normal behaviour for teenage lads to look at soft porn, we all did that with printed magazines back in my day. If I’m inclined I can monitor ALL the traffic on my wireless LAN, but I give my kids a degree of trust. I do ban them from using stuff like Limewire and bittorrent since, as far as I can see, those have the single purpose of sharing proprietary content (they are also a good vector for virus infection).

    The other crusade you, me and other tech savvy folks need to do is to see how we can get the Gov’t to learn about computers, computing, databases and applications and what can and can’t be done within a reasonable cost framework. This Gov’t seems to announce “We’ll have a new database” as the solution to every social, technical and political problem they encounter. Someone needs to teach them what computers are capable of and how it’s not simple and can be very costly to “create a database”. Look at the cost overrun on the NHS program for IT as an example of a project that isn’t going in the right direction. Too many politicians have the Hollywood approach to computing, which simple portrays computers doing things that computers can’t do (because otherwise the movie would be desperately dull).

  2. I tend to agree that it can’t work; there’s plenty of English content (and content where the language doesn’t matter – you know what I mean 😉 out there in nations that are going to flaunt this law mercilessly.

    Of course, the next step is for someone in Government to advocate a ‘Great Firewall of Great Britain’ to keep out non-rated content 🙂

  3. Sadly, I think I might have to rate my blog “R,” if I closely follow the rating scheme set up by the movie industry. When I start ranting, I occasionally drop the F-bomb. Twice in a single movie gives it an R rating.

    But I do agree that a rating system can’t work. If parents are worried about what their kids are seeing on the ‘Net, they should control or supervise what they’re seeing. Parents have the responsibility — not the government or the content creators.

  4. A very interesting dispute, I would be interested in seeing just how much involvement there will be from the US government… I’m thinking it’s not very likely, but maybe I’m being too optimistic.

    I would also like to point out that, at least in the US, the movie rating system is not a legal system, it is a suggested rating. Of course most movie theatres and retailers usually abide by the rating system, not because they’re legally obliged to, more because they don’t want to deal with complaints and boycotts if they don’t. However, many libraries will not abide by the movie rating system (some do by offering limited library cards to children, but many libraries do not go this far). Many libraries feel that labeling and rating systems are censorship and they limit access to materials. I personally worked in a library that didn’t limit access to R rated movies to children, so there is clearly no legal ramifications if a movie rating system is overlooked in this country.

    Before I go on and write an entire book about this topic, because I certainly could… I think most of us realize that this is technologically impossible, but I think that it does go to show that there are many people making important decisions that still do not understand the global nature of the internet, and how this stuff even works… to me that’s the scariest part.

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