PICS Ready For Widespread Adoption; Enabling Users to Filter Internet Content Without Censorship

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03 Dec 1996

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today endorsed the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) specifications as a W3C Recommendation. This Recommendation represents the W3C's highest "Stamp of Approval." It signifies that PICS specifications are stable, contribute to Web interoperability, and are supported for industry-wide adoption by all 156 W3C Member organizations.

PICS was spearheaded by the W3C as a practical alternative to global governmental censorship of the Internet. In particular, it was created as a way to allow parents to select information that they consider acceptable for their children.

PICS is a technical platform that offers a highly flexible tool for filtering of Internet content. It does not rate the content but empowers any individual, or organization to develop their own rating systems, distribute labels for Internet content and create standard label-reading software and services. PICS gives the user customized access to Internet content.

Microsoft, SurfWatch, CyberPatrol, and other software vendors have PICS-compatible products; Netscape is among the many other vendors who will be offering PICS-compatible products in their upcoming software releases . America Online, AT&T WorldNet, CompuServe, and Prodigy provide free blocking software that will be PICS-compliant by the end of 1996. RSACi and SafeSurf are offering their particular labeling vocabularies through on-line servers that produce PICS-formatted labels.

"PICS is a major step forward in the evolution of the Web and is another example of how the W3C is working to make the Web easier to navigate," said Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium and creator of the World Wide Web. "PICS will allow Web users to find information they want and avoid information they would prefer not to see. PICS is also beneficial in a wide variety of applications ranging from security to privacy protection to searching digital libraries."

"PICS establishes Internet conventions for label formats and distribution methods, without dictating a labeling vocabulary," said Jim Miller, of the W3C, Co-Chair of the PICS Technical Committee. "It is analogous to specifying where on a package a label should appear, and in what font it should be printed, without specifying what it should say."

Approval by W3C Membership as a formal Recommendation means that the specifications have been adopted by the industry. Parents, educators and law makers around the world should feel confident that PICS is an effective alternative to governmental censorship of the Internet.

The PICS specifications were originally chartered by a group of 22 organizations including the World Wide Web Consortium. The evolution of the specifications is continuing under the newly formed PICS Working Group within the Consortium, chaired by Dr. Paul Resnick of AT&T Labs.

Please see attached fact sheet and testimonials document for additional information on PICS.

The World Wide Web Consortium

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 156 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

MIT Laboratory for Computer Science

Now in its third decade, MIT LCS is dedicated to the invention, development and understanding of information technologies expected to drive substantial technical and socio-economic change. The LCS has helped information technology grow from a mere curiosity to 10 percent of the industrial world's economies by its pioneering efforts in interactive computing, computer networking, distributed systems and public key cryptography. LCS members and alumni have started some thirty companies and have pioneered the Nubus, the X-Window System, the RSA algorithm, the Ethernet and spreadsheets.

Instiut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique

INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, is a public-sector scientific institute charged with conducting both fundemental and applied research, and with transferring research results to industry. INRIA is made up of five Research Units located at Rocquencourt (near Paris), Rennes, Sophia Antipolis, Nancy and Grenoble. Areas of current research include information processing, advanced high speed networking, structured documents, and scientific computation.

Keio University

Keio University is one of Japan's foremost computer science research centers and universities. It is one of the oldest private universities in Japan, and has five major campuses around Tokyo. Keio University has been promoting joint research projects in cooperation with industry, government and international organizations, and is now becoming one of the research leaders for the network and digital media technology.

Further information on the World Wide Web Consortium is available via the Web at http://www.w3.org/. For information on PICS in particular, see http://www.w3.org/PICS/.

Press Release

Fact Sheet


$Date: 1997/08/09 17:53:25 $