'Best Practices' of one form or another are commonplace within industrial circles, regardless of what that industry might be. Of interest to adult website operators are those Best Practices defining proper coding techniques, banking security (PCI compliance) and child and consumer protection.
According to Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) CEO Joan Irvine, all professional industries have established Best Practices (BP) to know which business methods are acceptable to follow.
The success of the RTA program has been gratifying,” says the ASACP CEO. To date there are more than 4.5 million sites using this label.
“It is usually the responsibility of an industry association to provide such guidance since that association can be a neutral third-party and can also state to legislators that an industry is taking the necessary steps to do business correctly,” Irvine told XBIZ. “This way the industry can focus on business and making money, while the association focuses on its expertise; which in ASACP’s case is online child protection. In addition, potential business partners (especially those within the mainstream) want to know that it is safe to do business with ‘adult’ companies.”
“All industries would prefer to determine their own BP than have a government do it for them,” she says, noting that a few such associations include the movie industry with the MPAA; the video game industry with ESRB; and the wireless industry with CTIA and GSMA; while the credit card and banking industries have various associations.
According to Irvine, ASACP keeps alert of changes in the industry, technology, and legislation relating to child protection.
“For example, five years ago, ASACP noticed that U.S. legislators were discussing mandatory website labeling to protect children from accessing pornography, so it brought together industry leaders from various segments to determine how it could help the industry address this issue,” Irvine said. “The result is the international award winning Restricted to Adults (RTA) meta-tag (www.rtalabel.org).”
‘The success of the RTA program has been gratifying,” says Irvine, who added that to date there are more than 4.5 million sites using this label, with more than 6.5 billion monthly unique hits to pages with RTA labeling. She notes that this effort stopped the U.S. government from mandating more restrictive measures.
Today, the association develops Best Practices for various adult industry segments, focusing on the latest technologies as their use becomes widespread.
“Recently with the rapidly growing use of social media for distribution of age-restricted content, ASACP had to determine what could realistically be done to help parents to prevent their children from accessing such content,” Irvine told XBIZ. “We released our BP for Twitter and Social Media websites (www.asacp.org/index.php?content=best_practices ).”
Currently ASACP is working on a set of Best Practices for cam sites, offering a glimpse into the process of determining what those practices are.
“The first action item is to contact the leaders in this segment to have them share their existing Terms of Service (TOS),” Irvine said. “ASACP will reduce these to eight or 10 points and then ask these experts to review this draft. Once there is a final draft, it is reviewed with industry attorneys and then finally by the ASACP Advisory Committee.”
“The BP’s have to make sense and be something that the industry can adhere to on an operational basis,” Irvine added, saying the process can take anywhere from three to six months. “Then with the rapid change in technology, there is always some other area to address.”
These efforts enable adult website operators to better follow the law and to do what’s right — and while being an ASACP supporter is no guarantee of legal protection, membership can be helpful.
“Following the guidelines that ASACP provides to its members and sponsors can be very valuable if you ever need to defend yourself against an incident where you may come under the scrutiny of law enforcement,” Irvine told XBIZ. “Attorneys have said that being an ASACP sponsor or member is the least expensive insurance policy available.”
ASACP also reviews and monitors its members’ websites for the use of unacceptable, CP-related words and images that could compromise their visitors or vendors.
‘Companies that need to do ‘risk analysis’ on potential business clients have said that if a company is an ASACP member, they know ASACP as an outside third party has done a check for compliance with its BP’s,” Irvine said. “Therefore, these companies/ sites require less underwriting.”
“Surfers, aka potential paying members, also look for the ASACP Membership button as a reassurance that a website does not contain child porn,” Irvine concluded.
Given the range of benefits, there’s no reason for adult entertainment and other companies to take unnecessary chances by not adhering to Best Practices; especially those of their own industry.