Internet Content Rating Association
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Answers to FAQs about ICRA

FAQ 4.1 What is ICRA?

The Internet Content Rating Association is an independent, non-profit organization established in the spring of 1999 by a group of leading international internet companies and associations. 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.

The ICRA labelling system is the result of an extensive international consultation exercise involving senior industry figures and academics. ICRA has a small staff based in Great Britain and the USA with additional representatives in Germany and Hong Kong.

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FAQ 4.2 I've just found an offensive site, how come it's not labelled?

The Internet Content Rating Association does not rate internet sites - the web authors use our system to rate and label their own sites. ICRA is not a censor and makes no value judgements about any site. Our system allows web authors to add an objective, descriptive label to their site - the user makes the value judgement as to whether or not to allow access to such sites.

Since carrying an ICRA label is voluntary, naturally not all sites do so. However, a great many do as they support our view that voluntary labelling is the best way to protect minors from potentially offensive material and to protect free speech on the internet.

Why does any web author bother to label their site? Let's take the two extremes:

  • An organization or individual responsible for a site which contains none of the elements described in our matrix can make a clear declaration to that effect by labelling their site accordingly.
  • An organization or individual responsible for a site which contains material intended for an adult audience benefits from labelling their site as it can block access to minors, whilst allowing access for adults. The majority of such web authors are usually very keen to provide protection in this way. Apart from the moral argument, the pressure for governments around the world to pass legislation to ban their sites is reduced. Adult web masters are among ICRA's most ardent supporters.

So what's to stop a webmaster mislabelling their site? It does happen, but it is extremely rare - there is no gain for anyone, least of all the web master. There is more information about why you can trust an ICRA label on the Trust ICRA page. If you do come across such a site, please let us know via the contact page.

If you come across material which you think might actually be illegal, such as child pornography, then there are other organizations around the world to which you can refer the site. Known as hotlines, these specialist organizations work closely with national police forces and Internet Service Providers to locate and remove such material, and, where possible, to prosecute the offender(s).

Before contacting any of these organizations, please bear in mind that "offensive" does not equal illegal.

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