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About ICRA

ICRA at a glance

The Internet Content Rating Association is an international, independent organization that empowers the public, especially parents, to make informed decisions about electronic media by means of the open and objective labelling of content. ICRA's dual aims are to:

  • protect children from potentially harmful material; and,
  • to protect free speech on the internet.

There are two elements to the system:

Web authors fill in an online questionnaire describing the content of their site, simply in terms of what is and isn't present. ICRA then generates a Content Label (a short piece of computer code) which the author adds to his/her site.

Users, especially parents of young children, can then set their internet browser to allow or disallow access to web sites based on the objective information declared in the label and the subjective preferences of the user. The ICRA system can be used with Microsoft's Internet Explorer immediately, with wider applications under development. The existing RSACi labels can continue to be used in both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator but will be phased out over time.

A key point is that the Internet Content Rating Association does not rate internet content - the content providers do that, using the ICRA system. ICRA makes no value judgement about sites.

ICRA is a non-profit making organization with offices in both Brighton, UK and Washington DC, USA. Members include many of the internet industry's leading names from around the world.

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The filtering categories at a glance

ICRA's labelling system is designed to be as objective as possible, and to cover a wide range of content types. The system gives users a great deal of flexibility in their choices of what should and shouldn't be seen in their home or workplace. The browser's filtering system can of course be disabled and enabled easily... if you're the one with the password!

The broad topics covered are:

  •   Chat

  •   The language used on the site

  •   The nudity and sexual content of a site

  •   The violence depicted on the site

  •   Others such as gambling, drugs and alcohol.

Within each broad category the web author is asked questions about whether a specific item or feature is present or absent on the site. This is in contrast to the earlier RSACi system where "levels" of nudity, sex violence and language were set.

For full details of the questionnaire, see the webmasters page.

For details of how to set up the filter in Microsoft's Internet Explorer, please click here, or for details of ICRAfilter please click here.

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How it works - the PICS standard

Content Labels generated by ICRA conform to an internet industry standard known as PICS - the Platform for Internet Content Selection. ICRA's forerunner, the Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC) was involved in the development of the standard, created by the World Wide Web Consortium. The RSACi system (RSAC on the internet) has been incorporated into Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the latter since the release of version 3.0 in February 1996. Full technical details of PICS can be found at the W3C site.

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Why bother to label a site?

There are a number of compelling reasons why a web author would label his/her site with ICRA. Let's take four examples:

  1. Commercial sites, with little or no objectionable material will want to label their site so as not to be blocked "by default." When a parent sets up the filter for their child, they will be offered an option to allow or disallow access to "sites that have no rating." Most sites want the maximum number of visits to justify advertising or other related commercial activity. It would make good marketing sense for all commercial sites to be rated (labelled), whether or not they have any content that could be described as harmful.
  2. Operators of sites designed specifically for children will want to label their sites as some search engines build their database of "child-friendly sites" by looking for ICRA labels.
  3. The majority of operators of "adults only" sites are generally just as keen not to offend young children as the next person. Furthermore, labelling their site sends a clear signal to governments that the World Wide Web is willing and able to self-regulate, rather than have the heavy hand of government legislation decide what is or is not acceptable.
  4. All other things being equal, a site carrying an ICRA label is more likely to be perceived as trustworthy than one which is not labelled.

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ICRA Board members

Sheridan Scott
Chief Regulatory Officer
Bell Canada

Vice Chairman
David Kerr
Chief Executive
Internet Watch Foundation

Vice Chairman
Marcell Machill
Director Media Policy
Bertelsmann Foundation

Vice Chairman
Roger Cochetti
Senior VP & Chief Policy Officer

Camille de Stempel
Director of Security & Network Policy
AOL Europe

Julie Garcia
Director, International Public Policy
AOL Inc.

Nick Truman
Head of Customer Security and Acceptable Use, BTOpenworld

Emma Ascroft
Manager, Political Liaison
Cable & Wireless plc

Nigel Williams
Childnet International

Reed Stager
Vice President & General Manager, Media Commerce
Digimarc Corp.

Akio Kokubu
Vice President
IA Japan

Christopher Mustain
Senior Program Manager for Public Affairs

Stephen Balkam
Chief Executive Officer
Internet Content Rating Association

Bill Ashworth
Policy Counsel
Microsoft Corp.

Jean Armour Polly

Carmee Lim
Parents Advisory Group for the internet (PAGi)

Ken Wasch
Software & Information Industry Association

Gabriele Schmeichel
Senior Counsel
T-Online International AG

Clive Feather
Internet Expert

Jean-Michel Soulier
Directeur General Adjoint France

Frederick B Cooke
Vice-President, Government Relations
Verizon Online Services, Inc. and Verizon Entertainment, Inc.

Elizabeth Banker
Senior Corporate Counsel


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ICRA Staff

Stephen Balkam
Chief Executive Officer

Mary Lou Kenny
Director, North America

Phil Archer
Chief Technical Officer

Lynn Edwards
Operations Support

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ICRA Advisory Council

Nigel Williams
Childnet International

Jerry Berman
Executive Director
Center For Democracy And Technology

Dr. Peng Hwa Ang
Vice Dean
School of Communications Studies
Nanyang Technological University

Jean Armour Polly
Author, Librarian and Mom

Prof. Jack M Balkin
Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and The First Amendment
Director, The Information Society Project - Yale Law School

Cornelius Crans
Director Netherlands Board of Film Classification
P/T Teacher

Bruce A Rigby
Acting Assistant General Manager
Dept. Education, Employment & Training

Kenji Naemura
Graduate School of Media and Governance and Faculty of Environmental Information
Keio University

Izumi Aizu
Principal, Asia Network Research Sdn. Bhd.
Secretary General, Asia & Pacific Internet Association (APIA)
Senior Research Fellow, GLOCOM, International University of Japan
Manager, Research & Planning, Institute for HyperNetwork Society

Al MacKay
General Manager
The Cable Public Affairs Channel

Francisco Martín Abreu
Presidente. Consjero Delegado

Nana Makaula
CEO and Chairperson
South African Film and Publication Board
South Africa

Prof. Dr. Jo Groebel
European Institute for the Media


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Spelling used on this site

As ICRA operates internationally, we receive a number of e-mails questioning our spelling of the English language. This of course stems from the differences between the spelling norms adopted by English speaking countries around the world. As we are based in England, we have used British spelling for words like "labelling", "favourite" etc. We have however used the "~ize" form of words like "organization" as this is acceptable everywhere... and we had a lot of e-mails from the US when an earlier version of this web site included the (normal for Britain) "organisation"!

The logo buttons (such as the one at the bottom of this page) are available in US-English (labeled with ICRA) and non-US English forms (labelled with ICRA), as well as other language variants... and with no words at all for complete safety.

That said, if you find any typos, do let us know!

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