W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-talk@w3.org > May to June 1995

Agent-mediated access, kidcode critiques, and community standards

From: <bede@scotty.mitre.org>
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 1995 01:56:14 -0400
Message-Id: <199506220556.BAA05929@scotty.mitre.org>
To: jcdst10+@pitt.edu
Cc: www-talk@www10.w3.org
   Date: Wed, 21 Jun 1995 17:25:09 -0400 (EDT)
   From: James C Deikun <jcdst10+@pitt.edu>
   MIME-Version: 1.0
   Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

   [ . . . ]


   >                          Obviously, these smart cards will need to
   > carry ID and cryptographic keys as well as digibucks if they are to be
   > remotely useful.  Cards like this are already appearing, minus the
   > digibucks --- check out the NSA's FORTEZZA card for an example.

   Why can't these cards be useful without ID and crypto-keys?  Do you have 
   to show someone your drivers' license to purchase gum at a 7-11?  
   Cigarettes, maybe, but gum, no.  Why should this be different for 
   "infotainment"?

You're thinking about "digital cash".  I'm thinking about something
more like a credit card, where your identity or some relevant aspect
of it is an integral part of the transaction.  With KidCode, the
notion of the identity (or at least the age) of the information
consumer comes into play, and this would be part of an ID.  Recently,
there was a media flap about buying liquor over the net:  it turns out
to be easy to do without an ID.  KidCode deals with that sort of
issue.  So we're really talking about buying things like cigarettes
and liquor, not gum.


   > Most, if not all, of the free sexy Internet stuff (digitized images,
   > mostly, it seems) causing some frantic pre-election-year posturing in
   > the U.S. Congress will probably no longer be free, or even cheap,
   > assuming only trustworthy commerce protocols with strong (possibly
   > card-based) authentication backing them up.

   I don't know about that.  Lots of such pictures were available free, on 
   free BBSes, long before internet access became nearly as widespread as it 
   is.  Some people just won't care to charge for the stuff, and for things 
   in the public domain I doubt they'll be able to get more than pennies anyway.

A lot (almost all?) of the sexy imagery online is in violation of
copyright.  As a publisher, in most circumstances this is OK as long
as I'm not losing significant revenue from it.  The material that's on
the net seems to fall in this category for now, since there don't seem
to be any online publishers competing against them.  But I have a hunch
that if (for example) Playboy started publishing a by-subscription-only
Internet photo magazine, this situation could change dramatically.

   [ . . . ]

   What you said seems to be more in support of rating through URCs rather 
   than HTTP headers.  This would also mirror the ratings situation in real 
   life--movies and such are rated by third parties, not by their 
   publishers.  Sometimes these ratings are distributed by the publishers 
   (like MPAA ratings for movies) and other times they are not (various 
   family values organizations telling people not to watch NYPD Blue).  The 
   first of these models, though, becomes increasingly infeasible to handle 
   when there are more than a few publishers, and the Web will allow more 
   publishers to exist than ever before.

Maybe you're right, but all I'm thinking of is an indicator that
would come back from the server as part of its response to my GET.
Something on the order of "Content-Rating: WXY", where "WXY" is an
encoding of some sort we don't specify.  The rating would reflect the
server's assessment of the document's rating, using whatever
information is known about community standards where the client
resides.  Within the U.S., we have some standard references like the
MPAA ratings which I suppose could be used as defaults, absent other
information.  Clearly, the client code would need to understand "WXY",
and this raises the issue of what to do with unintelligible or garbled
ratings indicators.

Not everything needs to be rated, and I think the only time you'd
want to supply a rating is if it indicates the need for a restriction
on the audience.

Unless you're playing a prank, there's no sound business reason I can
think of to lie about the rating, particularly if you "upgrade".  I
can't see any way to mechanically prevent publishers with "dirty" data
from skirting the rules by elminiating or "upgrading" their ratings,
but it's hard to see how substituting Betty Page for Thomas the Tank
Engine buys me anything in the long term as a publisher other than
undesirable notoriety.

Aside from that, if I'm publishing dirty pictures, I make more if I
advertise them as being dirtier than they really are (e.g., "XXX"
rated movies).

   [ . . . ]

   > I completely disagree with the notion that "unrated" implies anything
   > stronger than simply "not rated by anyone".  We really can't get into a
   > position where we'd effectively force every author and HTTP server to
   > explicitly rate the content of every miserable little embedded image
   > and every document.  The grounds for rejecting material for viewing at
   > the client have to be concrete, based on the unambiguous presence of a
   > restriction, not the mere absence of one.

   That depends.  It probably wouldn't be a good idea for elementary schools to 
   allow unrated material to be viewed from their machines.

This is where restricting access to prescribed servers would be
useful.  In an elementary school context, this type of restriction
makes perfect sense, since you'd want to scout sites in advance
yourself anyway.  Unguided "surfing" for elementary school kids
doesn't serve any didactic purpose I can think of.  I can't see a
compelling reason to rate everything, in any case, since it seems to
add overhead when much simpler access restriction mechanisms appear
to be available.

   > Servers could themselves be rated, of course, rather than documents.
   > This is not something supported in the existing infrastructure, but
   > it wouldn't be hard to add.  I doubt this would eliminate the demand
   > for content rating of some kind.

   Rating by server simply isn't granular enough.

Maybe so, but it's a great first-order approximation of what to expect.
Dirty bookstores and Barnes & Noble undoubtedly have some inventory
overlap, but I know which one to keep my kid out of just by looking at
the sign on the outside.  You get a much higher probability (but still
less than 1.0) of age-appropriateness in contents with rated sites.

   --
   James "URC" Deikun
Received on Thursday, 22 June 1995 01:56:17 GMT

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