Thu, May 17, 2012 - Page 2 News List

NCC plans Web content regulator

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

An Internet watchdog to regulate content is soon to be established, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said.

The proposal came following the commission’s decision to abolish the Regulations for the Rating of Internet Content (電腦網路內容分級處理辦法) yesterday.

Jason Ho (何吉森), director of the NCC’s content broadcasting department, said Article 27 of the Children and Youth Welfare Act (兒童及少年福利法), which authorizes competent authorities to develop and formulate classifications for Web content, had been deleted in an amendment promulgated last year. Since the legislative basis for the Regulations for the Rating of Internet Content no longer exists, the commission was able to scrap the regulations according to the Central Regulation Standard Act (中央法規標準法), Ho said.

Ho said the commission is scheduled to hold a Web content summit in August, during which experts and government officials would be invited to share their opinions related to the proposed Internet watchdog. Should everything go as planned, the foundation could be established before the end of this year, Ho said.

Ho said the planned foundation would have funding from the commission and other government agencies regulating online content. The foundation would be mandated with several missions, including studying how children and teenagers use the Internet, setting up procedures to handle consumer complaints, formulating a new Web content classification system, building filtering software and executing user authentication mechanisms or other measures to protect children and teenagers from exposure to harmful content.

Ho said the current Internet rating system has become inadequate in regulating Web content.

“It [the current rating system] was adapted from the one proposed by the World Wide Web Consortium more than 10 years ago,” Ho said. “The system proposed by the consortium had proven ineffective in protecting minors from exposure to inappropriate content. Institutions like the Family Online Safety Institute in the US no longer support such a system.”

As an example, Ho said Next Media’s animated news series, which was fined NT$1 million (US$33,760) in 2009 by the Taipei City Government for violating the Children and Youth Welfare Act, is not equipped with any mechanisms to effectively stop those under the age of 18 from exposure to inappropriate content.

To access animated news stories that involve restricted content, one simply needs to click “yes” to a pop-up question asking if the viewer is 18 years old. Ho said the proposed foundation would not only promulgate a new Internet rating system, it would also require online content providers to have mechanisms to prevent minors being exposed to restricted content.

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