Rating and Filtering System's Problems

The content of sites must first be reviewed and rated by some person or entity. This rating will then determine what adults and children will access on the Internet. This process is the very essence of censorship (Dority and Barlow, 1996). Whether it is implemented by the ISPs, companies or independent citizen groups, it is still censorship. And there is a possibility that some blocking lists may reflect political and social views. It may limit the user’s right to access information.

If any site fails to provide PICS labels, the site will be invisible to those who have content filtering turned on in their browsers. First of all, that means legitimate sites with no offensive content, but also no time to rate their sites, will be invisible (“Rating the web”, 1999). While voluntary content rating is clearly preferable to government intervention, it remains hard to imagine how any third-party rating system-excluding the governments-will succeed on the global Internet (“Rating the web”, 1999).

Actually, it is really impossible to rate all sites around world without the international cooperation. And a single rating system fails to reflect corporate, cultural or geographical diversity (“Rating the web”, 1999).

Internet content originates from every corner of the world, bring with it diverse cultural viewpoints. As a result, only those foreign content providers who are highly familiar with American culture and mass media will have the possibility of producing consistent ratings. Consequently, the usefulness of the PICS system substantially decreases when the person rating the content is unfamiliar with American culture. These cultural deficiencies are problematic for foreign content providers because they must rate using PICS standards if they want to reach American homes that utilize blocking software that uses the RSAC rating system (Dobeus, 1998).

However, rating vocabulary such as PICS does not identify or rate content for scientific, literary, artistic or political value. Thus, website authors will be forced to rate their speech using the limited capabilities of existing rating vocabularies producing labels with which they do not agree (Dobeus, 1998).


Site created by Bong Kun Song, hand50@ufl.edu
Last updated: 28 November, 2001
© copyright 2001 Bong Kun Song