Age-ratings plan for websites

Internet websites could be given cinema-style age-ratings under plans by the Government to limit access to "unacceptable" material, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has warned.



In an interview with today's Daily Telegraph, Mr Burnham said "clearer standards" were needed as to what could be displayed online.



He said it was his "absolutely categorical" view that there was material on the web - including beheadings - which should not be available to anyone.



He confirmed one of the proposals being considered by ministers to protect children from harmful material was the introduction of age-ratings for websites.



"That would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus," he said.



Another option said to be under consideration was a requirement on internet service providers to offer a service which would give access only to websites which are suitable for children.



Mr Burnham insisted his proposals were not intended as an attack on freedom of speech, but that some material on the web had gone too far.



"If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn't reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now," he said.



"I think there is definitely a case for clearer standards online. You can still view content on the internet which I would say is unacceptable. You can view a beheading.



"There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people."



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