Rating and labelling your ASP.NET website

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CRA (the Internet Content Rating Association) is part of the Family Online Safety Institute, an international, non-profit organization of internet leaders working to develop a safer internet. It is believed that ICRA has been successful in regulating free flow of digital content and protecting children from potentially harmful material.

Content providers have to check the presence or absence of elements in the ICRA questionnaire, a descriptive vocabulary, with those from their websites and generate a small file containing the labels that is then linked to the content on one or more domains.

Once the website are labeled, users, mainly parents of young children, can then use filtering software to allow or disallow access to web sites based on the information declared in the label. A key point here is that judging and rating the internet content using the ICRA labelling system is done by the content providers, web masters of the site not by the ICRA.

Introduction

This article details how to go ahead with the steps of creating labels and incorporate them in your website and it also show how to do the same with the Pics method of the ASP.NET Response object.

You must generate labels suitable for your website in the ICRA questionnaire that is stored in a database. While filling-up the questionnaire, you would be prompted to check if particular item is present or absent in your site. The following are certain categories under which your website may be classified and labelled.

• The presence or absence of nudity
• The presence or absence of sexual content
• The depiction of violence
• The language used
• The presence or absence of user-generated content and whether this is moderated
• The depiction of other potentially harmful content such as gambling, drugs and alcohol

The following picture shows the steps to generate labels for your website or homepage with the ICRA site. The ICRA site is available at

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http://www.icra.org/label/generator/

Once you are done with the labels, you can then link them to the content, i.e. your web site.

Linking the labels to the website

After the labels are generated, you would get a file that contains the labels along with the Link and PICS tag(to support legacy applications)

<link rel=”meta” href=”http://h1.ripway.com/bbmurali_2000/homepagelabels.xml” type=”application/rdf+xml” title= “ICRA labels” />

(or)

<meta http-equiv=”pics-Label” content=’(pics-1.1 “http://www.icra.org/pics/vocabularyv03/” l gen true for “http://h1.ripway.com/bbmurali_2000″ r (n 3 s 3 v 3 l 3 oa 2 ob 2 oc 2 od 2 oe 2 of 2 og 2 oh 2 c 0) gen true for “http://www.h1.ripway.com/bbmurali_2000″ r (n 3 s 3 v 3 l 3 oa 2 ob 2 oc 2 od 2 oe 2 of 2 og 2 oh 2 c 0))’ />

Both of these tags need to be added to the section of the HTML code of each page of your site.

Showing the site label to the users

The nature of the site is determined by the labels created by the content providers. The web masters can provide link, picture or text to the users to see what type of webpage they are viewing. To do so, provide a link to http://www.icra.org/sitelabel/ and users need to type-in the website address to see the labels as shown below:
**********************************************
Labelled with ICRA
http://h1.ripway.com/bbmurali_2000 is labelled
• Nudity may be, but is not known to be, present
• Sexual material may be, but is not known to be, present
• Violence may be, but is not known to be, present
• Potentially offensive language may be, but is not known to be, present
• Potentially harmful activities may be, but are not known to be, depicted
• No user-generated content
• This material appears in a news context
The label declares that it was issued on 2008-6-25
***********************************************

What is PICS?

PICS stands for Platform for Internet Content Selection. It is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standard for content labelling. Though PICS is essentially a language for creating a ratings system, any value can be a PICS label as the ASP.NET engine does not validate the label. The maximum length of the string is 255 characters.

PICS-Label is one of the HTTP headers that identifies the page with its content type(not the format such as PDF, DOC or XLS). The PICS Label tells you the type of content (sexual, adult, violent, gambling or news) and you must incorporate it in each of the webpage in your site.

Alternative to the tags specified in the previous paragraph to link the labels to your website, you may use ASP.NET Response object’s Pics method to append a HTTP PICS-Label header to the output stream. It takes a single string parameter to specify the generated label.

Sample Code

[source:asp]

<%@ Page Language=”C#” %>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN”
“http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”>
<script runat=”server”>
// When this page is loaded, the Pics method sets the PICS-Label header for the response.
private void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
Response.Pics( “(pics-1.1 <http://www.icra.org/ratingsv02.html> ” + “comment <ICRAonline EN v2.0> ” +
“l r (nz 1 vz 1 lz 1 oz 1 cz 1) ” + “<http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html> ” + ” l r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))”);
}

</script>
<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml” >
<head>
<title>ASP.NET Pics Example</title>
</head>
<body>
………….
………….
</body>
</html>

[/source]

Summary

Many people who may like to make use of those labels, such as parents, search engines and filter manufacturers have assurance and motivation to check the websites using ICRA. ASP.NET allows us to link labels to the site so easily and provide security to our children.

Once the websites are developed with labels and PICS, it would be filtered across the web by the users and browsers using the filtering software or current day browsers like Internet Explorer 7.0. For more information on content filtering and rating, you may have to go to IE browser’s Tools menu ? Internet Options ? Content Tab and set the appropriate settings.

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Copyright @ Balamurali Balaji  2008

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