Cinema-style age ratings being considered for websites

By Matthew West

Movie-style age ratings are being considered by the government to protect children from offensive or potentially harmful material on the internet.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph culture secretary Andy Burnham said the government was considering the move among a number of possible new safeguards for the internet.

Mr Burnham said he was also considering closer co-operation with the US on international rules to govern English language websites.

The culture secretary has three young children of his own and believes internet service providers should offer child-friendly websites.

“Leaving your child for two hours completely unregulated on the internet is not something you can do,” he told the Telegraph.

“This isn’t about turning back the clock. The internet has been empowering and democratising in many ways, but we haven’t yet got the stakes in the ground to help people navigate safely around it.”

Mr Burnham said a review of the accessibility of certain content available on the internet was needed and insisted he was not attempting to apply government censorship.

“You can still view content on the internet which I would say was unacceptable. You can view a beheading,” Mr Burnham said.

“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.”

The culture secretary added that film style age classifications similar to those given to movies was an option coming into “full focus” at the moment and hinted this was being seriously considered by the government.