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Re: Publically available PICS Label Bureau for RDF migration testbed?

From: Chris Patterson <chris@maxum.com>
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999 10:23:18 -0500
To: pics-interest@w3.org
Message-ID: <1288558439-88229421@maxum.com>
> I'm looking at ways of wrapping a PICS bureau as an RDF service of some
> sort, but can't actually find a live PICS bureau to work with.
> The list at http://www.w3.org/PICS/bureaus.htm seems a little dated
> (8/20/1996)  -- EvaluWeb times out, the PICS Incubator is offline, and the
> NetShepherd and SurfWatch sites, while glossy, don't (for presumably
> sound commercial reasons, though see 3 below) don't seem to describe
> machine-level interfaces to their networked rating servers.

I ran into these exact same issues while developing the PICS content
filtering module for WebDoubler, our MacOS proxy server product.

> 1. if there are live PICS bureaus out there available for testing (or
> production use), please could you let me know

The closest thing to a production-quality, publicly-accessible PICS label
bureau that I've found, are either evaluWEB, which has moved:

 (rating-service "http://calvin.ptloma.edu/~spectre/evaluweb/")
 (rating-system "http://calvin.ptloma.edu/~spectre/evaluweb/pics.cgi")

or the CyberNOT PICS service:

 (rating-system "http://pics.microsys.com/ratings/")
 (rating-service "http://pics.microsys.com/ratings/")

> (I'm trying to think of ways in which owners of ratings databases might
> be encouraged to make those ratings more publically accessible...)
> I'd be very interested on perspective of ratings-content owners on this
> last issue.

I think the primary issue with running a publicly-accessible PICS label
bureau is that, quite frankly, there is no way to make money from it, since
a label bureau request is just a simple, unauthenticated HTTP request.

For example, why should Microsystems spend money advertising their PICS
label bureau, and spend the money to maintain the server? It makes more
sense for them to promote their proprietary CyberPatrol client software
(which runs on either an end-user machine or a proxy server). Of course, the
hope is that the client software provides some added value over the PICS
label bureau alone. Not to pick on Microsystems -- all developers of
content-filtering systems face the same issues.

(By the way, what, if any, restrictions are there on the use of the CyberNOT
PICS label bureau? Anyone know? There is precious little information at the
above URL.)

There is no reason some kind of authentication method to identify
"registered" users couldn't be used in the PICS HTTP request. It would
probably require some kind of public/private key system (Cookies? PGP? SSL?)
-- HTTP's "basic" authentication method wouldn't cut it. But whatever method
was agreed upon would need to be implemented in the PICS clients.

Chris Patterson                       chris@maxum.com
Maxum Development Corp.          http://www.maxum.com

          "Tao?" "Nah, I prefer to drip-dry."
Received on Thursday, 8 April 1999 11:21:40 UTC

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