Morality in Media (now calling itself The National Center on Sexual Exploitation), Utah State Senator Todd Weiler, Protect Young Eyes, child advocate Melissa McKay, and other organizations, are calling for an official censor to oversee age ratings for
apps. The groups claim that the present system of self rating by developers is often misleading, inconsistent across platforms, and does not appropriately warn parents of the potential dangers found in apps. Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director at the
National Center on Sexual Exploitation said:
Parents are empowered with rating information to keep kids out of R-rated films, but when it comes to apps, parents are left in the dark about the kind of content their
children are accessing. Apps such as Instagram, Facebook, and GroupMe need to be more transparent with families about the risks associated with their platforms, particularly regarding grooming for child sexual abuse and sex trafficking.
The moralists are calling for the following:
The creation of an independent app ratings board. This board would have powers similar to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and MPAA for movies, which use a rating system that is clearly understood, enforced, trustworthy, and exists to
protect the innocence of minors.
The release of intuitive parental controls on iOS, Android, and Chrome operating systems. These controls should at a minimum include default settings based on a child's age, easy set-up, and one-touch screen time
controls (e.g., school and bedtime selective app shut-off).
Supporters believe that if these two steps are done properly, parents would have what they need to make informed decisions about the appropriateness of the digital places where their kids spend time.
The BBFC has just published a very short list of adjudications responding to website blocking complaints to mobile ISPs during the last quarter of 2018.
There are several cases where innocuous websites were erroneously blocked by ISPs for no apparent
reason whatsoever and a quick check by a staff member would have sorted out without the need to waste the BBFC's time. These sites should get compensation from the for grossly negligent and unfair blocking.
The only adjudication of note was that
the general archive website archive.org which of course keeps a snapshot of a wide range of websites including some porn.
The BBFC noted that this was the second time that they have taken a look at the site::
The BBFC provided a further adjudication when we viewed the website on 10 October 2018. As in September 2015, we determined that the site was a digital archive which hosted a range of media including video, books and
articles. We found a range of pornography across the archive which featured explicit images of sexual activity, in both animated and non-animated contexts. The site also contained repeated uses of very strong language. Additionally, out of copyright film
and video material which the BBFC has passed 18 was also present on the site.
As such, we concluded that we would continue to classify the site 18.
It is interesting to note that the BBFC have never been asked
to adjudicate about similarly broad websites where it would be totally untenable to come to the same 18 rated but correct conclusion, eg google.com, youtube.com, twitter.com. They would all have to be 18 rated and it would cause untold trouble for
everybody. I wonder who decides 'best not go there'?