Websites Should Get Movie-like Ratings Says UK Culture Minister

The Culture, Media and Sports Secretary, Andy Burnham, is set to announce a number of new proposals to protect younger members of the society from "harmful and offensive material" which can be easily found on the internet.

It is not the first time that Mr Burnham wants to have some sort of control over what is being broadcasted online. Back in June 2008, speaking at a media summit in London, he was quoted saying that “In the same way that there are standards that are essential to broadcasting, in this converging world I believe there should be a set of standards online.”

Mr Burnham told the Daily Telegraph that the government could give age ratings to websites under new government plans to restrict access to unacceptable material and is ready to discuss the project with his alter ego in the forthcoming Obama administration which could spawn into a full monitoring structure for English-speaking Websites worldwide.

The minister who described the internet as a "dangerous place" wants Internet Service Providers to kit out parents with "child-safe" web services. Other options that could be considered would include having a set time (the so called take down time) in which popular websites would have to remove offensive or harmful content.

He also stressed that the proposals were not a campaign against free speech but rather finding a middle ground to prevent members of the public - in this case children - being harmed by online content. he acknowledged that the public would need "to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it".

Burnham did not elaborate on whether any proposals would be backed by a legal arsenal, effectively making it mandatory for ISPs to implement, or the details of how it would actually work.

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Our Comments

The people who govern us never learn from past mistakes it seems. Almost three weeks ago, the Internet Watch Foundation tried to removed the controversial album cover from Wikipedia only to be met with a well-timed backlash coming from those who do not want the net to become another "big-brother" territory.

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