A new content-labeling platform developed by MIT's World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as a practical alternative to global censorship of the Internet has become "a marketplace reality," Albert Vezza, associate director of the Laboratory for Computer Science, said last week.
The platform, called PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection), "has completed an incredibly quick eight-month ramp-up, going from a drawing-board promise to marketplace reality," said Mr. Vezza, a member of the PICS steering committee.
Also announced were the plans of a number of US organizations and companies to integrate PICS into their Internet-access control plans and products.
These announcements mean, Mr. Vezza said, "that by early summer, any parent using any popular Web browser or major commercial online service connected to the Internet will have their choice of PICS-compatible rating systems for controlling their children's access to Internet content. Some of those systems will be available at no charge."
Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web and director of W3C, predicted that within the next 12 months, PICS will become the global technical platform on which most control access systems are built. The W3C was organized to develop common protocols and reference codes for the evolution of the Web.
PICS is a technical platform that allows individuals or groups to develop personal or organizational rating systems, distribute labels for Internet content and create label-reading software and services to give users control over access to Internet content.
The PICS platform is now on the Web at
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 20, 1996.