The V-Chip Debate: Content Filtering from Television to the Internet

By Monroe E. Price | Go to book overview

The provision of control devices raises two separate issues: the first concerns their development and production by industry and the second their marketing and supply to users.

The spontaneous development of a wide variety of parental control systems for the Internet and other services shows that industry can very quickly come up with systems which take into account users' needs and the general environment of available services. Measures to promote standardization and the labelling of material as outlined above can only reinforce this tendency and bring product prices down. However, any attempt to define or prescribe a specific system would run the risk of placing an artificial barrier on promising developments.

The marketing and supply of parental control devices to users raises more complex questions. In services where parental control devices are the only effective means of protecting minors, they should automatically be supplied -- or offered -- to users. However, these automatic supply arrangements must not interfere with competition between different types of device, which is an inherent guarantee of progress in the systems offered.


Notes
1.
Directive 89/552.
2.
The anti-violence chip is a technical device developed by Professor Tim Collins at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. This microchip, incorporated in a television set, a cable selector or a decoder, reads the classification code of each programme. The viewer can programme this chip to block the signal of programmes with a classification which exceeds the level considered acceptable for that family. Thus, if the viewer selects the violence level V3, programmes coded V4 and V5 will not appear on the screen. Programme classification codes could be applied to aspects other than violence as required (nudity, sex, bad language, etc.).

It should be noted that the expressions "anti-violence chip" or "V-chip" relate directly to this Canadian proprietary system. We therefore prefer, in relating to a broader concept, to refer to parental control systems or devices.

3.
In France, the CSA asked non-encrypted broadcasters (private and public) to develop common classifications and identifiers for programmes which could be harmful to minors and a code of conduct for television news programmes.
4.
European Association of Consumer Electronics Manufacturers.
5.
Attached to the provisions on the V-chip, these rules are now known as the Communications Decency Act (CDA).
6.
"A wealth of persuasive evidence. proved that it is either technologically impossible or economically prohibitive for many of the plaintiffs to comply with the CDA without seriously impeding their posting of on-line material which adults have a constitutional right to access."
7.
"¿Qué" Miras?, ¿Qué Haces? -- La familia, las niñas y los niños ante la televisión y las nuevas pantallas."

III. French Audiovisual Council, Violence on Television: Steps in the Cooperation between the French Audiovisual Council (CSA) and Broadcasters

October 1995: The French Audiovisual Council publishes a quantitave first of-itskind study of which shows the importance of violence in works of fiction broadcast by French stations.

-318-

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