Responsible Technology: PICS and Microsoft

WASHINGTON, July 15 — The Internet offers incredible benefits and remarkable possibilities to people all over the world. Microsoft recognizes that with this almost limitless technology must come responsibility. In fact, we were part of the original team that developed the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) — the set of technical specifications for creating rating systems and filtering software for Internet content. And we were one of the original industry participants to support the accompanying RSACi rating system for online content now being implemented by the Recreational Software Advisory Council.

Microsoft recognizes that all of us in the Internet community must continue to educate users and make practical tools available to parents so they can make judgments about content and decide for themselves what their children may access.

We believe that protecting youth from inappropriate content is a commitment for all of us who care about the success of the Internet and the future of the Information Age. As many of us are parents ourselves, we understand the concerns of parents who want their children to have the full educational potential of the Web, but also want to be sure their children have a safe and secure Internet experience.

In recognition of this responsibility, we offered the first Web browser to support the PICS platform — Internet Explorer 3.0, which was shipped in August 1996. At the same time, we began rating all of the content — using the RSACi Ratings System — on the Microsoft Network (MSN), a process which continues today.

Internet Explorer 3.0 is equipped with a feature called “Content Advisor” which allows parents to limit their children’s access to Internet Content. The next version of Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer 4.0 (which will be available this fall) will maintain this important feature.

As we have seen by the active participation of so many companies in providing responsible technology for harnessing the vast resources of the Web, this is a significant issue. For example, in addition to the incorporation of PICS in Internet Explorer, there are a number of commercially available filtering programs such as SurfWatch, NetNanny and Cyber Patrol that work with any browser. In addition to MSN, AOL and other popular online services also provide parental controls for their customers.

We look forward to working with the Administration and Congressional leaders and others to continue to develop effective and easy-to-use solutions that will protect free speech and protect our children from inappropriate material on the Internet.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Murray, Public Relations Manager of Microsoft, 425-936-3306

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