News of the launch of ParentPort should be of interest to all following communication issues, as it aims to provide an integrated, single site, to help households complain about content or material they feel is inappropriate for children, such as by helping to direct them to the appropriate regulator. This complements initiatives by the largest ISPs in Britain to provide new customers with the ability to have access to software for filtering content, and blocking content deemed inappropriate to children. Some provide software for PCs, others control at the ISP level. An overview of these initiatives is online here.
These are early days in the development of such facilities, but they seem to be the most responsible response to increasing demands for content regulation. The closer decisions can be moved to the user and the household, the more appropriate the are the controls from most perspectives on the rights of Internet users. Enabling more effective self-regulation by users and households might take some pressure off policy-makers and regulators to apply Internet filtering regimes. Earlier efforts have not been a great success, such as the US Violence-Chip or V-Chip, during President Clinton’s administration. However, these initiatives deserve support and research to determine how they can be good enough to head off far blunter approaches that take control away from users and households.
I am not aware of research on these measures, but would encourage it and would be delighted to hear from any experts and researchers focusing on this area. The OII is doing some work on the home hub, in a study of future home networks and services, which is a promising locus for content controls in the future, and I would be particularly interested in any related work with this focus.