ASACP, ICRA Trade Links: "We Share A Common Mission"

Adult Sites Against Child Pornography and the Internet Content Rating Association have exchanged links under the Industry Resources category, ASACP executive director Joan Irvine announced April 1.

"Many in adult site industry have labeled with ICRA and are members of ASACP; therefore, it was important for our two organizations to promote each other's mission," said Irvine in a formal statement. "ICRA is one of the first mainstream association to recognize ASACP's valuable work by including the ASACP logo, description and link under their resources."

They share a common mission, Irvine said: protecting children.

The ICRA calls itself "an international, independent" group whose aim is keeping harmful material away from children online while still protecting free speech. They generate content labels for Website authors who fill out their online questionnaires, which let parents set the household Web browsers according to "objective information" contained in the content label.

But the ICRA doesn't actively rate Internet content. "(T)he content providers do that," the group says, "using the ICRA system. ICRA makes no value judgment about sites."

With offices in England and the United States, the ICRA has a number of major Internet players as members or with people serving on their board, from companies like Bell Canada, AOL Time Warner Europe, Microsoft, VeriSign, Verizon Online, and Yahoo, among others.

ASACP was contacted by ICRA a year ago, when ICRA director for North America Mary Lou Kenny made contact with ASACP founder Alec Helmy. Kenny, in fact, attended the January 2003 Internext convention in Las Vegas. Irvine said Kenny was "absolutely astonished" by the professionalism she saw among the adult Internet players at the trade show.

Kenny was impressed by how many of the adult Internet players she met took the child porn issue and parental sovereignty issue as seriously as she does. "They were as interested in giving parents a choice as we were," Kenny said by telephone from her Washington offices.

"If you take a look at their site, you can see that she's very much pro-free speech and very much pro-children, and not as you might think negative toward the adult industry," Irvine said. "A number of our sites are listed with the ICRA. The adult sites are very concerned, and they do not want young children to be seeing adult material. This is just a start. We just wanted to figure out was there some way for us to be working together."

In March 2002, ICRA had praised several leading adult Internet players – including Larry Flynt Productions, MaxCash, YNOTMasters, and Epoch, among others – for "taking a proactive and aggressive stand to protect children from inappropriate or harmful Internet content." The larger players continue taking the interest, Kenny said, but it's time for the smaller ones to step up as well.

"We seem to have hit a lull in the adult Internet industry," she said, "but I would like to encourage all the Webmasters of the adult industry to move forward and label. And we make it simple for them to label multiple sites easily."

Kenny stresses that she has no interest in formal censorship. "(We're) a self-labeling system that provides an opportunity for content providers to self-label their sites," she said. "And then, the second part is, parents can use their systems to make choices as well. Our objective is to empower parents to protect their children and protect free speech."