MPs want age certificates and watershed for online video sites

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youtube_age_verification.gifWhen it comes to “the Internets”, MPs do seem to ask the near-impossible. While I’m all in favour of protecting children from online nastiness, I don’t think trying to push existing methods on to the Web works.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has warned that the Internet has a “dark side”, and protested over the delays in taking down images of child abuse once reported. Indeed, I agree.

However, they’ve also called for video sharing sites such as YouTube to create an age classification system for violent or sexually-explicit content, as well as introducing a watershed time before which such videos can’t be shown.

I get the sentiment — honestly, I do — but I think it’s flawed. For one, MPs are angry that website operators aren’t routinely screening clips for offensive content. If they think that’s technically feasible, then they obviously haven’t been following the Viacom versus YouTube lawsuit.

Apparently, though, MPs know best, because developments in technology have solved the problem of sifting through large amounts of material. Riiight. (In fairness, technology to scan for “offensive content” is in development, but it’s neither mainstream nor foolproof)

Secondly, who is going to be responsible for tagging every video with an age rating? The users? That’s open to abuse. The video sites? They don’t have time, and whose standards would they work to? The BBFC? How are they going to have time to police the Internet, and how are they going to tag the content when they’ve deemed it unsuitable?

Thirdly, the idea that YouTube is going to introduce a watershed, based upon what time it is where the viewer lives, is ridiculous.

As always, protection and education begins at home. I am not against putting software and hardware systems in place to help protect children, but it’s not the complete solution. Parents need to monitor what their kids are doing online, and educate them about safer Internet use.

MPs have a right to be concerned, but trying to replicate existing systems online isn’t the solution.

(Via Web User)

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Andy Merrett