Recently, Internet capable mobile phones have become a popular communication method among children and since crime incidents including child prostitution arranged through online dating sites are growing in number, establishment of regulative laws as well as technical methods such as filtering which control children's access to dating sites (see Notes 1) are sought for. Similar problems are arising in other countries as well, and in the United Kingdom, filtering will be provided through carrier providers within the year based on the industry guideline published this January in preparation of the launch of third generation mobile phone services.
In consideration of these circumstances, Internet Association, Japan (President: Naoyuki Akikusa) has commenced the Mobile Filtering Technology Research and Development project which was selected as the adopted project for 2004 fiscal year Information Communication Technology Research and Development public offering by the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affaires, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT). The project will promote technology development of controlling mobile phone access to dating sites and filtering of inappropriate content with the help of mobile phone carries, filtering service providers, and others. Furthermore, a new mobile filtering technology study group led by Professor Nobuo Saito, Professor of the Faculty of Environmental Information and Vice President of Keio University will be formed.
The project will participate in international standardization processes of W3C (see Notes 3) for the next generation PICS (see Notes 4) in order to establish the foundation that will support the rating/filtering methods for mobile phones (see Notes 2). The project will discuss how to identify harmful content within sites such as dating sites in cooperation with mobile phone carriers to help in filtering, and will perform proof of concept experiments of mobile phone content filtering (selective blocking of contents) systems with children in cooperation with parents.
Internet filtering (selective blocking) is a user oriented system that is capable of receiving information selectively and subjectively according the filtering level that a user (or parent) considers appropriate, and that is capable of observing the user's right to "know" and the user's intention of "not wanting to see" or "not wanting the children to see."
A rating/filtering method is a method where web contents are rated according to certain objective criteria (rating criteria) enabling users to filter (block or pass) information based on their own value judgment using the rating results.
There are two types of ratings; "self rating" and "third party rating." Self rating is a rating performed by the content publisher him or her self, and is the least problematic regarding freedom of expression. Third party rating is a rating where a third party other than the content publisher performs the rating of the subject content and builds a rating database that registers the rating result. Multiple third party rating databases may exist based on different value judgments.
By referring to rating data from these various rating databases according the settings configured by the receiving user, filtering software will be able to control information the user will receive or will enable parents and teachers control information presented to children they look after.
W3C is an international consortium established to bring forth the maximum potential of the web by developing common protocols that ensures evolution and interoperability of the web. The consortium is operated jointly by three hosting organizations; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Laboratory of Computer Science (MIT/LCS) in the U.S.A., the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) based in France, and Keio University of Japan.
Over 400 organizations worldwide are members of this consortium, and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web serves as overall Director of the consortium.
PICS is a technology standard W3C has been developing since 1995 to control Internet access without enforcing regulations in order to resolve the Internet's social responsibility technologically. The characteristic of PICS is that it enables selective receipt of information according to levels that a receiver designates without limiting the publishing of information over the Internet.