World Wide Web Consortium Issues PICSRules and DSig1.0 Proposed Recommendations

W3C Developments Promote Ease of Use and User Confidence

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CAMBRIDGE, MA., USA -- 25 November, 1997 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the availability of the PICSRules and DSig 1.0 Proposed Recommendations as complements to the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS). PICS, a W3C Recommendation, was originally designed to help parents and teachers control what children access on the Internet, but it also facilitates other uses of labels, including privacy and software code safety. PICSRules enables the one-click configuration of PICS settings; DSig allows users to verify the authenticity and integrity of signed PICS labels.

"We're making the Web into a 'Web of Trust', in which information can be verified as easily as it is obtained," said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web. "It'll be a huge boost for commerce and teamwork online. Also, before you delegate useful work to a software agent, you have to be able to tell it what you trust. PICSRules and DSig will enable simple and reliable tools for deciding what to trust on the Web."


PICSRules is a mechanism for exchanging user settings, resulting in an easy one-click configuration. It allows such preferences to be easily saved, moved, and exchanged. "Some users may be taken aback by having to configure their browsers for the type of content, security, and privacy they want on the Web. With PICSRules parents can go to a PTA site and download initial settings which are recommended for primary school children," said Martin Presler-Marshall, PICSRules Working Group Chair from IBM. "Parents can then customize these settings according to their own preferences and share them with other parents."

On 1 December, the World Wide Web Consortium will be demonstrating PICSRules at the Focus on Children Internet Online Summit in Washington DC.


Web publishers need a means to assure the authenticity and integrity of their labels and to make informed decisions when using the Web, users need the same. Both needs are addressed by attaching digital signatures to PICS labels. "If a site states in a label that a Java applet will not crash your system, or that you will not find nudity on a given Web page, how do you know the statement is true, or that the statement isn't forged or altered?" explained Philip DesAutels, DSig Project Manager. DSig is an open mechanism for making signed assertions that is independent of specific cryptographic algorithms or key-management infrastructures.

Continuing Work

The PICSRules and DSig1.0 Proposed Recommendations have received approval by the W3C Director and are currently under review by the W3C Membership for approval as a W3C Recommendation. Jim Miller of W3C's Technology & Society Domain stated that, "this process signals the close of work on PICS specifications. We will now focus our technical efforts on a more powerful meta-data infrastructure, the Resource Description Framework, and its applications, such as the privacy project, P3P." RDF allows one to make machine readable statements about Web resources, including other statements. When coupled with the next version of DSig, such statements can make extremely sophisticated and verifiable statements, including price lists, manifests, and contracts.

For more information on PICSRules please see

For more information on DSig 1.0 please see

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to develop common protocols that enhance the interoperability and promote the evolution of the World Wide Web. It is an industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; reference code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 220 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see

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$Date: 1997/12/30 21:41:43 $