Monday, December 29, 2008

Britain Aims to Restrict Access to Web Sites

The New York Times

Compiled by JULIE BLOOM

Published: December 28, 2008

A British cabinet minister says the government is considering a plan to work with President-elect Barack Obama on a new ratings system for Internet Web sites, according to The Telegraph in London. Andy Burnham, above, who is secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said in an interview on Saturday that he hoped to work with Mr. Obama to implement a set of standards for English-language Web sites in order to protect children from inappropriate material. Mr. Burnham spoke favorably of implementing a set of ratings standards similar to the one employed by the Motion Picture Association of America. It would be managed by Internet service providers and restrict children’s access to Web sites without age ratings.

Mr. Burnham, who characterized the Internet as “quite a dangerous place,” said about working with the United States: “The change of administration is a big moment. We have got a real opportunity to make common cause.” Alluding to possible criticisms regarding censorship, Mr. Burnham said, “This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it, it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people.”