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Consortium Plans Web Rating System

Put off by outside efforts to oversee Net content, the World Wide Web consortium is planning to add code to the HTTP protocol that will leave room for a rating field to warn parents of inappropriate content.

The new software, which will be added later this summer to the Web, is designed to let parents, schools, and other groups designate the criteria used to judge content. These groups will also be responsible for rating Web areas using the rating field feature.

Once the system is in place, computer users will be able to set their Web browsers up to block access to any objectionable site categories, officials said.

The consortium is made up of 59 companies including AT&T, Microsoft, Digital Equipment Corporation, and Sun Microsystems, and is headed by Tim Berners-Lee, the designer of the World Wide Web.