Re: A Proposal for a New Standard in HTML 3.0

Albert Lunde (Albert-Lunde@nwu.edu)
Tue, 11 Apr 1995 21:43:18 -0500 (CDT)


Message-Id: <199504120243.AA226064598@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Subject: Re: A Proposal for a New Standard in HTML 3.0
To: jpaul@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 1995 21:43:18 -0500 (CDT)
Cc: www-html@www10.w3.org
In-Reply-To: <9504112253.AA17075@www10.w3.org> from "jpaul@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu" at Apr 11, 95 07:14:58 pm
From: Albert-Lunde@nwu.edu (Albert Lunde)

> Anyway... while working with this project, as well as playing with ideas of
> becoming an internet provider in the area, I had an idea for an inprovement
> to HTML 3.0.
> 
> If the WWW becomes the consumer playground business would like, we may soon
> find ourselves in a censorship (or at least 'parental control') quandry.
> What I propose is a parameter placed within the HTML text.  Specifically,
> the tag could be incorporated as follows:
>                           <BODY PC=ON>
> 
> Where 'PC' represents 'Parental Control'.  This tag would VOLUNTARILY be
> placed in HTML documents by people such as Penthouse or Playboy... anyone
> with an adult or explicit content.

I think HTML is a poor place to put this sort of thing, in general.

I have my doubts about this kind of idea for political reasons, but
I have more specific technical reasons for this combination of
additional html tags + a modified client.

1) Restrictive clients are a bad solution to problems of net "censorship":
a better solution which is feasible today, is for an information
provider to offer a "censored" internet feed through a caching
proxy server and a firewall. Any client that supports proxy access
could be used, and the firewall would enforce use of the proxy.

This does not suffer from the weakness that a bright ten year-old
could use Fetch to download an unrestricted WWW client, if we
relied of client controls.

The proxy could be written to block "unapproved" sites or allow
access to "approved" sites for any definition of "approved".
(This also puts the work in the lap of the people wanting censorship
and does not try to "clean up" an international multicultural net
to the least common denominator.)

2) If you want to use a distributed scheme for classifying content
of the Internet, it may be more productive to have "good" sites
(for some defintion of good) carry some "seal of approval" than
ask other sites to label themselves "bad". A list of "seals of
approval" need not reside on the sites themselves, but could
be offered up by third partiies.

3) I _think_ that the URC scheme under development by the URI
working group, was considered as a means of offering this
kind of document meta-information as well as other characteristics.

4) If you _need_ to attach this kind of stuff to individual
documents (and I'm not convinced this is desirable or
necessary), it's better to find a way to convery the meta-information
via HTTP headers or some similar mechanism than in the HTML
markup, for two reasons:
  1) this would be easier to fetch over the net than an entire document
  2) this could apply equally to other document types like GIF,
     JPEG, Postscript, PDF, etc. whose content one might equally
     want (or not want!) to censor.

Getting back to my political reservations: my religion, sexual  
orientation, and politics are all considered offensive by _somebody_
on the net. I don't see why I should be held responsible for
warning the world that I don't conform to the least-common-denominator.

You might want to look at some political/legal discussion of the 
issues of censorship before you try selling this idea to the
world, for example, the Computers and Academic Freedom archive
at:

  http://www.eff.org/CAF/

or the ACLU reading room at:

 gopher://aclu.org:6601/

-- 
    Albert Lunde                      Albert-Lunde@nwu.edu