Monday, December 29, 2008
Robert Winnett, Telegraph, UK - Culture Secretary Andy Burnham says internet sites could be given 'cinema-style age. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Andy Burnham says he believes that new standards of decency need to be applied to the web. He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama's incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites.
The Cabinet minister describes the internet as "quite a dangerous place" and says he wants internet-service providers to offer parents "child-safe" web services.
Giving film-style ratings to individual websites is one of the options being considered, he confirms. When asked directly whether age ratings could be introduced, Mr Burnham replies: "Yes, that would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus.". . .
His plans to rein in the internet, and censor some websites, are likely to trigger a major row with online advocates who ferociously guard the freedom of the world wide web.
However, Mr Burnham said: "If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn't reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. It's true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.". . .
Mr Burnham also wants new industry-wide "take down times". This means that if websites such as YouTube or Facebook are alerted to offensive or harmful content they will have to remove it within a specified time once it is brought to their attention. . .
Mr Burnham admits that his plans may be interpreted by some as "heavy-handed" but says the new standards drive is "utterly crucial". Mr Burnham also believes that the inauguration of Barack Obama, the President-Elect, presents an opportunity to implement the major changes necessary for the web.
"The change of administration is a big moment. We have got a real opportunity to make common cause," he says. "The more we seek international solutions to this stuff - the UK and the US working together - the more that an international norm will set an industry norm."