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Solid Oak pushes Net rating system

Solid Oak Software has come up with an alternative system ready to start labeling sites as adult and mature right away.

Not wanting to wait until a widely endorsed Internet rating system is finalized, Solid Oak Software has come up with an alternative system ready to start labeling sites as adult and mature right away.

The company today announced its Voluntary Content Rating (VCR) system. It lets Web publishers embed code into their sites that will identify the material as adult, graphic material about adult subjects, or mature, containing text references or discussions of mature themes. The site then automatically identifies its content to filtering software that scan the Web for potentially inappropriate sites.

Only Solid Oak's own Cybersitter filtering program supports the rating system now, but other filtering packages, such as SurfWatch and NetNanny, could adopt the system free of charge, said Marc Kanter, vice president of marketing at Solid Oak.

Most Internet filter vendors, including Solid Oak, and browser vendors Microsoft and Netscape Communications have already pledged support for a more detailed ratings standard called Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS).

While that system is being finalized, however, Solid Oak wanted to get a basic ratings system into the hands of publishers immediately. "We will support [PICS] when it's implemented. After everyone gets their hands on it, it will take a while to take effect," Kanter said. "Something had to be done relatively quickly."

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