Google, Yahoo! Endorse UK Guidelines To Protect Kids From Adult Content

LONDON - Google and Yahoo! have endorsed a set of British guidelines designed to protect children from adult content.

Drafted by Broadband Stakeholder Group, the British government's advisory on broadband access, the agreement calls for content providers to label material "that may be unsuitable for children and young people or which some members of the public may find offensive."

The Good Practice Principles on Audiovisual Content Information apply to "commercially produced or acquired" content, but not to online advertising or user-generated content on websites such as YouTube.

The BBC, AOL, Channel Four, Bebo, Micrsosoft and Virgin Media are among the other companies officially listed on the labeling initiative. While the document has no legally binding effect on any of its signatories, it shows the major corporations coming forward to focus on the issue.

The announcement follows Steven Hirsch's speech at Yale University last Saturday, in which the Vivid Entertainment co-founder challenged Yahoo and Google to take stronger measures in shielding kids from adult material online.

"None of the search engines and portals, but particularly Yahoo and Google, has taken any significant steps in this direction," Hirsch said.

When excerpts from the speech went out over the wires, both Google and Yahoo! responded in an article posted on AFP.

"We have made it a company priority to protect children online by creating tools for users to safeguard themselves and by supporting efforts to educate children, parents, and communities about safe online experiences," Yahoo said. "We have focused on protecting children from online pornography through our safe search feature, filters for offensive language, privacy preferences and parental controls."

"We're deeply committed to helping keep our users safe," Google told AFP. "When it comes to child safety, we aim to empower parents with tools to make their own choices about what content they want their children to see and educate children on how to stay safe online."

To read the full text of the Good Practice Principles, click here.