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[FYI] AOL, EuroISPA, IBM and Microsoft Join Forces


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                       Internet Content Rating Association Formed To
                       Provide Global System For Protecting Children
                       And Free Speech On The Internet

                         London (ots) - 

                         AOL, EuroISPA, IBM and Microsoft Join Forces
                         with Other Global
                      Organizations to Create and Manage International
                      Online Rating System

                         Today, Internet industry leaders joined
                         forces to create an
                      international Internet content rating system
                      that protects children and free speech on the
                      Web. Formed with the backing of some of the
                      world's best known Internet and communications
                      companies, the new global rating system will be
                      based on the established RSACi content rating
                      system. The system will be governed by a newly
                      formed association, the Internet Content Rating
                      Association (ICRA). The founding companies of
                      ICRA include AOL Europe, Bertelsmann Foundation,
                      British Telecommunications plc (BT), Cable &
                      Wireless, Demon Internet (UK), EuroISPA, IBM,
                      Internet Watch Foundation, Microsoft, Software &
                      Information Industry Association, and T-Online
                      Germany. To ensure the successful world-wide
                      deployment and acceptance of the new
                      international system, ICRA will accept
                      additional memberships from companies or
                      organisations willing to join in its efforts to
                      build and manage an internationally acceptable
                      online content rating system.

                         Built on the success of the Recreational
                         Software Advisory
                      Council's RSACi content rating system, the
                      rating mechanism that is already embedded in
                      Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape
                      Navigator, the ICRA system will be a voluntary
                      self-rating system that is both user and
                      provider friendly, and culturally non-specific
                      and objective.

                         To develop a system for content rating that
                         is culturally
                      acceptable for use in countries around the
                      world, ICRA will hold consultations with
                      children's advocacies, consumer groups,
                      universities and interested parties around the
                      globe. Once developed, the system will be
                      available to all Internet users as a free
                      service. All ICRA members are committed to the
                      establishment of an international rating system
                      and have dedicated a considerable amount of time
                      and resources to ensure that the public receives
                      a valuable set of tools to control the nature of
                      content that they and their families view on the

                         "In forming ICRA, our goal is to provide
                         parents and teachers
                      around the world with a standardized, strong and
                      flexible system for protecting children from
                      Internet content they find inappropriate," said
                      Jens Waltermann of the Bertelsmann Foundation,
                      chairman of the board of ICRA. "It is not for us
                      or for governments to decide what is
                      inappropriate. Individual parents should make
                      that choice. We will ensure that the system
                      helps parents in a variety of different

                         Andreas Schmidt, of AOL Europe, said, "ICRA
                         is a critical step in
                      self-regulation by the emerging global Internet
                      community.  It shows that the Internet industry,
                      working closely with public interest groups, is
                      taking the initiative to provide parents,
                      teachers and other concerned citizens the tools
                      to protect their children and communities while
                      ensuring the essential openness and freedom of
                      the Internet."

                         "It is especially important for the industry
                         to play a leadership
                      role protecting children and free speech on the
                      Internet," said John Patrick, vice president,
                      Internet Technology, IBM. "The Internet offers
                      exciting new opportunities to society as a
                      whole. By working together globally, we can play
                      a vital role in making sure the Internet is a
                      safe environment, available to us all. "

                         "Microsoft's involvement in ICRA is an
                         expression of our
                      commitment to working with members of the
                      Internet industry to help users understand
                      online safety issues and have a positive
                      experience online", said John Frank, Director of
                      Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Europe,
                      Middle East and Africa. "This initiative is a
                      major step in an ongoing cooperative effort to
                      help make the Internet a great medium for all
                      users to discover and explore and we are
                      delighted at the opportunity to continue our
                      work in this area within this new association."

                         With the establishment of ICRA, the RSAC
                         Board has transferred its
                      assets (including the RSACi system) to the newly
                      constituted ICRA to help speed the group's
                      efforts. A number of the leading RSAC board
                      members will join the ICRA board of directors
                      and many of the existing RSAC staff, including
                      Stephen Balkam, its current President, will
                      become ICRA employees. ICRA anticipates having
                      the new rating system available for use within
                      the next twelve months.

                         About ICRA

                         ICRA is an international non-profit
                         organisation, incorporated in
                      the UK as a company limited by guarantee, with
                      charitable purposes. ICRA's mission is to
                      develop, implement and manage an internationally
                      acceptable voluntary self-rating system which
                      provides Internet users world wide with the
                      choice to limit access to content they consider
                      harmful, especially to children. ICRA has
                      received the RSAC assets including the RSACi
                      system that provides consumers with information
                      about the level of nudity, sex, language, and
                      violence in Web sites. To date, more than
                      100,000 Web sites have rated with the RSACi
                      system, including a great number of the top 100
                      sites which account for 80% of the web's

                      ots Original Text Service: AOL Europe
                      Internet: http://www.newsaktuell.de

                      AOL, Rachel O'Neill
                      Tel.: +44 (0) 171 594 4571, Fax: +44 (0) 171 594
                      4444, Email: RachONeill@aol.com

                      Trink Guarino
                      IBM Media Relations
                      Tel.: 914-766-1067 (USA)
                      Email: guarino@us.ibm.com

                      Microsoft EMEA Press Office
                      Tel.: + 44 181 242 4167
                      Email: emeapress@text100.co.uk

                      Zum Seitenbeginn

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