Official Hearing Notice
Request for Comments on Filtering, Labeling, and Rating Technologies
ACTION: Request for submission of comments regarding filtering, labeling or rating services in preparation for the July hearing of the Commission on Online Child Protection.
SUMMARY: The Commission on Child Online Protection is directed by Congress to consider methods and technologies to help reduce access by minors to material that is "harmful to minors" (as defined in the Child Online Protection Act ("COPA"). As part of this review, the Commission has scheduled three public hearings to consider these methods and technologies. On July 20-21, 2000, the COPA Commission will hold its second public hearing at the Jepson Alumni Center at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia to consider filtering, labeling, and rating technologies. Today's notice seeks comments on such technologies.
DATES: Comments are requested by Wednesday, July 14, 2000, to permit consideration by the Commissioners in advance of the hearing. However, the record will remain open for receipt of comments until after the last hearing in August 2000.
ADDRESSES: Written comments should be submitted to: Kristin Hogarth Litterst, Dittus Communications Inc., 1000 Thomas Jefferson St., NW #311, Washington, D.C. 20007. If feasible, nineteen copies of the written comments should be submitted. Alternatively, the Commission will accept comments submitted to the following e-mail address: . General submissions should be captioned: "Comments on Second Hearing Subjects."
The Child Online Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 231 note, ("COPA"), as amended, established a temporary, 19-person Commission to study methods to help reduce access by minors to material that is harmful to minors on the World Wide Web. The COPA Commission is directed to submit a report to Congress, no later than October 21, 2000, on the results of this study, including:
- a description of the available technologies and methods to reduce minors' access to harmful materials (including filtering, rating, age verification systems, and others),
- conclusions regarding such technologies and methods,
- recommendations for legislative or administrative actions to implement the conclusions of the Commission, and
- a description of the technologies or methods that may meet the requirements for use as affirmative defenses to liability under COPA, 47 U.S.C. § 231, for unlawfully permitting minors to access harmful material.
The COPA Commission will hold 3 public hearings. On June 8-9, 2000, it held a hearing in Washington, D.C. on "one-click-away" resources, age verification systems, and creation of a top-level adult domain. On July 20-21, 2000, it will hold a hearing on filtering, labeling, and rating systems, at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. On August 3-4, 2000, it will hold a hearing on other PC-based technologies, marketing of pornographic material, and future protective systems, at a location to be determined.
Information solicited by this notice:
In connection with the second public hearing, the COPA Commission requests comments on all issues of fact, law, and policy regarding the operation and implications of filtering, labeling, and rating systems. The following are questions that may be considered at the July 20-21 hearing:
- What information exists regarding parents' awareness and attitudes about Internet filtering?
- What is the relevance of traditional labeling or rating of movies, music, tv shows and video games to the Internet?
- What information is available regarding parents' awareness and attitudes about Internet filtering, rating/labeling?
- What legislation would be most appropriate to promote awareness and effective use of filtering, rating or labeling systems?
- Should government conduct, sponsor or fund research into improving filtering, labeling and rating systems?
- Must a filtering, labeling or rating system be international in order to effective?
- What are the implications of filtering and labeling technologies for privacy, first amendment rights and law enforcement?
Questions specific to filtering
- How do current filter systems operate, and to what extent do they rely on rating and labeling?
- What evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of current filter technologies at blocking access to material that is harmful to minors as defined in the COPA statute?
- To what extent do such systems over-filter, that is, also prevent access to harmless material of interest to minors?
- How many filter systems are in the marketplace, and to what extent do consumers use them?
- What prevents more widespread adoption of filtering by parents and public facilities, and what can be done to further their use?
Questions specific to labeling and rating
- How do current labeling and rating systems operate?
- What evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of current labeling technologies at restricting access to material that is harmful to minors as defined in the COPA statute?
- To what extent if any do such systems also have the effect of restricting access to harmless material of interest to minors?
- How many labeling and rating systems are in the marketplace, and to what extent are web sites labeled or rated?
- What prevents more widespread adoption of rating/labeling by web sites, and what can be done to further their adoption?
Comments filed with the COPA Commission will be made available to the public.
In an upcoming notice, the COPA Commission will make public the agenda and witness list for the July 20-21 hearing.