The internet is the most useful but also the most dangerous invention of the 20th century say many people. Today it is the fastest way to communicate or get information about something when you are inside the world wide web (= www). But it can also be misused for dangerous and explicit material. Because of this fear of harming and disturbing people especially children many governments had demanded that the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) eliminate harmful sites or face the prosecution. But the ISPs are unable to control the content, because they are just carrying the infomation for the \"www\" and nothing more. But even when ISPs could find and remove such sites they could be duplicated without a problem elsewhere on the world because of the ease of circulating information.
Then American companies started to write so called cyber patrol software packages, which enable parents to ensure that their children can\'t get access to adult or harmful material on the Internet when they are not around. Because of the differences even between US and British cultures it is possible that such an American software can block access to sites like information about drinking, cigarettes or aids which a British pupil could find useful. Therefore an international coaltion of non-governmental organisations has been trying to think out a workable ratings system that could be used by parents in a wide range of cultures to prevent their children from accessing unsuitable material on the global network. But there is big problem because of the European side of the coalition. The Europeans think that they will need at least 1 1/2 years to develop a workable pairing of a ratings system and software that can interpret it but the U.S partners have at most 9 months before the US demands mandatory ratings legislations. Another problem for the Europeans is that they at first would have to go through consultations in the various countries.
And how should it work?The ratings system would work on a completely voluntary basis which means that every site that wanted to would to compare itself against a list of criteria, on a scale of 1 to 5, for categories such as amount of sex violence, intolerance expecially for racial items, nudity and dangerous activities like alcohol and drug use. Then the site's owner would rate the site against those criteria and then include that rating on the site. At the child\'s computer a specific software would read the ratings and compare it against criteria set by the parents. Then the computer would either deny or allow access to the side.