Fw: EFA Condemns Internet Rating System

Rohit Khare (khare@w3.org)
Mon, 10 Feb 1997 14:43:51 -0500

From: danny@cs.su.oz.au (Danny Yee)
To: Media-Release-List:;;@charlotte.anu.edu.au;;;;;;
Date: Sun, 09 Feb 1997 17:58:49 +1000
Subject: EFA Condemns Internet Rating System

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.

Media Release February 9th 1997


Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has condemned the RSACi Internet
labelling system, on the grounds that it is parochial, inflexible,
and archaic.

The RSACi rating system is the creation of the United States based
Recreational Software Advisory Council. Originally a scheme for rating
computer games, it is now, in conjunction with the Platform for Internet
Content Selection (PICS), being used to rate Internet content. It is
probably the most widespread PICS-based rating system in use on the
World Wide Web; the RSAC home page claims that over 15 000 sites use
their system.

There has, however, been growing concern around the world about about
the proprietary RSACi system.

EFA board member Danny Yee writes: "The RSACi system has no way of
distinguishing material with artistic, literary, or scientific value.
It is in this regard atavistic, a return to an era when Shakespeare was
Bowdlerised and the penises were chiseled off classical statues."

"The definitions used in determining the four ratings -- for 'language',
'nudity', 'sex', and 'violence' -- were clearly chosen with computer
in mind and lack the flexibility required for a wider range of materials.
It is ludicrous that such a system should be applied to novels, online
libraries, art galleries, and other such resources."

"RSACi also displays a bizarre combination of explicitness and total
subjectivity. The definition of Revealing Attire, for example, refers
to 'the display of cleavage that is more than one half of the possible
length of such cleavage' but also contains the phrase 'which a reasonable
person would consider to be sexually suggestive and alluring'."

The RSACi system defines Profanity in Christian terms and uses that
as a criterion for assigning the 'language' rating. "This is only the
most obvious evidence of its US-centric parochialism", commented Yee.
"RSACi lacks any sensitivity at all to cultural context. It makes
constant references to 'a reasonable person', presumably ignorant of the
fact that in some cultures 'reasonable people' consider nakedness

"Application of RSACi to the global Internet is blatant religious and
cultural bigotry. It is most distressing that a government agency such
as the Australian Broadcasting Authority has labelled its own web site
with RSACi and is encouraging others to do likewise."


Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc -- http://www.efa.org.au/
representing Internet users concerned with on-line freedoms
Media Contact:

Danny Yee (danny.yee@efa.org.au)
+61 2 9351 5159 (work) / +61 2 9955 9898 (home)


RSAC home page

RSACi ratings dissected

The Net Labelling Delusion

RSucky - an RSACi parody

The ABA Web site