NEW YORK - It will be easier to protect children from objectionable and inappropriate content on the Internet, thanks to a project being developed by the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) and funded by a $70,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.
The project involves implementing a new method of organizing and labeling digital content that enables content providers, portals and Internet service providers to offer more effective filters for screening content on the Web. In addition, ICRA will work with the Internet community to encourage content providers to voluntarily use this labeling method, based on new technical standards called Resource Description Framework (RDF), for their digital content.
"We can't leave our children unprotected," said Michael McKeehan, director, Internet and technology policy for Verizon. "Digital content is being consumed across a wide range of devices - for example, broadcast TV clips can now be played on cell phones, and movies can be delivered via the Internet and viewed on a PC. The time has come for a self-regulated labeling process."
Stephen Balkam, CEO of ICRA, said, "More than ever before, digital content now flows freely across national boundaries, media platforms and delivery devices. Consequently, we recognized the requirement to move towards RDF, which represents a modern technology with an active and growing body of support from a wide variety of industry players and academic researchers. ICRA is indebted to the Verizon Foundation for its generosity with this grant, which has been an enormous help in our work to make the Internet a safer place for children."
More than 100,000 Web sites worldwide - including those of Verizon Online, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo -- have already self-labeled their content or are working to complete that process.
Verizon Communications and many other corporations throughout the world are members of ICRA. An international, nonprofit membership organization with offices in the United States and the United Kingdom, along with representatives in both Germany and Spain, ICRA acts as a forum through which both policy and technical infrastructure are defined to help shape the way that the Web works. ICRA encourages digital media providers to describe their content using machine-understandable labels that empower Internet and digital content users to customize their online experience through installation and use of a filter set to each user's personal preferences. In addition to free Web filters - such as ICRAplus -- ICRA labels can also be read by other filtering tools, Internet browsers and search engines.
The Verizon Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications. In 2004, the foundation awarded more than 26,000 grants totaling over $70 million to charitable and nonprofit agencies that focus on improving literacy, computer and technology skills, and identifying domestic violence solutions. The foundation uses its resources in the United States and abroad to develop partnerships in technology and connect them with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, and the economically and socially disadvantaged.
The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, an incentive program that last year encouraged Verizon employees to volunteer 528,000 hours in their communities and provided $37.6 million in combined contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.
With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of 212,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 45.5 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.