Protecting the minors (was: ACS PR condemns ABC's search hacker)
Thu, 15 Jun 1995 09:19:07 +1000
Rhys Weatherly wrote:
>However, the problem isn't being able to add ratings. It is how the
>rating system is enforced. If the system is voluntary, what happens when
>I refuse to rate my server? You force me? Then it is no longer
>voluntary. You can also bet your bottom dollar that the purveyors of
>net.porn will not put ratings on their material and will keep moving
>around to avoid ratings added by others. They are in the game to make a
>free speech point or to prove that "information wants to be free". They
>are not going to rate something and reduce their preceived freedoms.
I'm not sure that they would not cooperate. Some are making a point, but
I doubt if too many would go into the trenches for the right to provide all
sorts of objectionable material to everyone. The reality is that the forces
of Right are going to pursue the Net community to make it a "safer place"
and if we do not provide some sensible guidance to content in some
we risk losing a hell of a lot.
>The American Library Association is also dead against rating systems
>because ratings prejudice choice. How many of you don't go and see MA and
>R rated movies? Believe me, you are missing some of the best directed and
>acted movies of all time. They win award after award for their
>brilliance. Ratings cause prejudice because people make up their minds
>based on the rating rather than on the actual content of the movie. The
>media itself is a form of rating as it prejudice's people's opinions
>using one-sided stories (witness the current villification of the Internet
>by net.illiterate journos).
What is being suggested in the IETF draft, is a voluntary guide to content,
to enable parents to screen what their kids can see - a function most
parents see as their responsibility - and to enable libraries and other
public organisations to be sensitive to the feelings of the people whom
>I am currently in the US where Senator Dole (a Presidential candidate) has
>told Hollywood off about violent movies like Pulp Fiction and True
>Romance, while praising movies like The Lion King and (surprise!) True
>Lies. However, Senator Dole has not seen _any_ of those movies, including
>the ones he praises. He bases his opinion of them on ratings, media hype,
>and a desire to score political points. Not on the truth.
Fair comment, but the Kidcode proposal relies on self-regulation - yeah I
know it never works.
>Ratings are also against free speech. How can speech be truly free when
>you are required to write in a style that has a rating in the top
>right-hand corner? That is a limitation on how you are allowed to speak.
Not at all. You write first and then assess it. What's the problem?
>It also forces you to only write within the boundaries of your chosen
>rating. You cannot add a 4 letter word to a PG movie, even if it would be
>the most appropriate thing for the character to say at that point, because
>the PG classification puts limitations on your speech. How many
>characters have we seen say things like "frig" instead of what they really
>would have said in real life? Life may immitate art, but art is not
>allowed to immitate life.
I agree with what you say, but I think this is straying from the point.
>In the end ratings will be ineffective on the Internet. What is going to
>stop a determined child downloading an unrestricted Web browser? To stop
>it, you not only have to make ratings mandatory, you also have to make
>some kinds of software illegal. Making software illegal has the effect of
>restricting the free expression of programmers. Censorship begets more
Nothing will stop a determined child, or an adult who wants to give children
access to material that some people regard as offensive, but as in computer
security we can make it hard for the less determined perpetrator.
>Ratings are not all they are cracked up to be. They are an excuse for
>parents and teachers who want to avoid their supervision duties, and treat
>the Internet like a babysitter. Ratings can do no more than advise, and
>poorly at that. They cannot stop children accessing the material. Only
>parents and teachers can do that. Laws which require ratings or require
>protection mechanisms are doomed to failure. They won't work, no matter
>how much the conservative forces whinge and moan. Get used to it.
Enjoy the trip.
Director, Systems National Library of Australia CANBERRA ACT 2600
firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (+616) 2621535 Fax: (+616) 2733648