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Web Security and Commerce by Gene Spafford, Simson Garfinkel

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PICS

Most censorship software was hurriedly developed in response to a perceived political need and market opportunity. Access control software was used to explain in courts and legislatures why more direct political limitations on the Internet’s content were unnecessary and unworkable. Because of the rush to market, most of the software was largely ad hoc, as demonstrated by the example of the blocked ISDN web pages. The Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) is an effort to develop an open Internet infrastructure for the exchange of information about web content and the creation of automated blocking software.

Although PICS was designed with the goal of enabling censorship software, PICS is a general-purpose system that can be used for other purposes as well.

PICS is an effort of the World Wide Web Consortium. Detailed information about PICS can be found on the Consortium’s web server at http://w3.org/PICS.

What Is PICS?

PICS is a general-purpose system for labeling the content of documents that appear on the World Wide Web. PICS labels contain one or more ratings that are issued by a rating service.

For example, a PICS label might say that a particular web page contains pornographic images. A PICS label might say that a collection of pages on a web site deals with homosexuality. A PICS label might say that all of the pages at another web site are historically inaccurate.

Any document that has a URL can be labeled with PICS. The labels can be distributed directly with the ...

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