opinion

ASACP: Self Regulate Or Be Regulated

Tim Henning

Even though adult entertainment is by definition intended for adults only, many minors do access it. This is unsurprising, since today’s children become adept with and reliant upon the Internet and technology at ever younger ages. They can even become more adept than their parents over time. Sometimes, children view adult material accidentally. Other times they seek it out. How can we — as a responsible industry — help to prevent children from viewing age-inappropriate content online? Addressing this question and being part of the solution has never been more necessary if this industry is to avoid increasingly heavy-handed legislation on a global scale.

Recent moves made by world governments, centered on providing greater protection for children from viewing age-restricted content on the Internet and in the mobile application arena target all of adult entertainment in its entirety and these moves continue to gain considerable traction. Online age verification is an increasingly mandated focus. Recent examples of this include ATVOD’s fining of U.K. companies for having inadequate age verification mechanisms and their plans to aggressively expand these efforts to non-U.K. based companies. Moves to filter the Internet at the ISP level by several governments are also emerging. Addressing issues such as these through cohesive industry self-regulation is crucial.

Recent moves made by world governments, centered on providing greater protection for children from viewing age-restricted content on the Internet and in the mobile application arena target all of adult entertainment in its entirety and these moves continue to gain considerable traction.

Attentive parents make rules about what media their children are permitted to consume. But parents can’t always physically be there to look over their kids’ shoulders, especially since children are able to access such content using an ever growing list of mobile devices that fit into their pockets. It is true that parental controls are now offered by web browsers, Internet service providers, firewall proxy servers, search engines, and even computer operating systems. However, even conscientious parents equipped with an array of tools can’t do it alone.

Content providers have a responsibility as well to make sure their sites and content are unambiguously recognizable by parental control systems as being inappropriate for consumption by minors. That’s why, in 2006, ASACP launched the RTA (“Restricted To Adults”) website label. By providing a single, consistent, universally recognizable tag for adult material, RTA better enables parental filtering — and demonstrates the online adult industry’s commitment to helping parents prevent children from viewing age-inappropriate content.

Embedding the RTA label code in page header metadata tags enables filtering via the various parental control mechanisms that are widely available to parents. The RTA label is recognized by a majority of filtering products and services, and ASACP continues to pursue partnerships with more to ensure that RTA is recognized as widely as possible. Significantly, RTA is recognized by the parental controls in both Microsoft and Apple browsers, including browser use on mobile devices. The RTA label can even be used to tag individual social networking site user pages, blogs, and mobile apps that feature adult material.

The RTA label is completely free to use, voluntary, and universally available to any website that wishes to label itself clearly and effectively as being inappropriate for viewing by minors. Using RTA requires no online form to fill out, no registration, and no fee. RTA does not differentiate between the various types of age-inappropriate content available; all content considered unsuitable for minors is simply labeled “Restricted to Adults.”

Given the climate of Government control that is growing worldwide, the writing is on the wall. Children are a universally convenient excuse for the prohibition of internet porn — so if you want to keep your business alive, keep kids out of and away from it — remember that RTA is the best solution for doing so today. Other necessary steps include joining and supporting ASACP at some level of membership or sponsorship. There are four levels of membership and four levels of sponsorship starting at just $300 per year — a level to suit every companies needs and budget — as well as adhering to ASACP’s established Code of Ethics and industry segment-specific Best Practices. There has never been a more pressing need for the industry to stand firmly united behind child protection issues.

Offering a variety of services, tools, advice and advocacy only makes a difference when stakeholders take heed and this has been a stubborn source of discord and division which has hurt the industry for years. There is little hope of improvement until the majority of business owners take their company and its needs seriously. While ASACP’s sponsors and members have already come to this conclusion, and thus support the only organization that helps them protect their businesses by protecting children, much work lies ahead in raising awareness and support among the countless other operators that are happy to benefit from the work of ASACP, without bearing any of the burdens, financially or otherwise.

Industry legal experts continually emphasize the importance of industry unity in support of common goals. The argument against porn is a very easy one to make and politicians continually take opportunities to bolster their self image by attacking the industry in the name of protecting children. It can be difficult for the industry to portray itself as a legitimate collection of enterprises when it cannot unite to defend common interests — and many are unwilling to sacrifice in order to enable professional trade representation.

ASACP’s business is as much about protecting your business as it is about protecting children. ASACP is the only organization that bridges the necessity of online child safety issues with the needs of legitimate adult entertainment business owners and the noted concerns of international regulators and lawmakers — an effort which is made possible by the sponsorships, membership fees and donations that the association receives from decision makers like you — and an effort which reaps continued rewards for all stakeholders. ASACP is currently and aggressively expanding its international presence and needs your support to help us accomplish these challenging but necessary goals.

For more information regarding ASACP, sponsorship/membership opportunities and how your business can help, please contact tim@asacp.org or vince@asacp.org.

ABOUT ASACP

Founded in 1996, ASACP is a non-profit organization dedicated to online child protection. ASACP is comprised of two separate corporate entities, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection and the ASACP Foundation. The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. ASACP manages a membership program that provides resources to companies in order to help them protect children online. The ASACP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The ASACP Foundation battles child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline and helps parents prevent children from viewing age-restricted material online with its Restricted To Adults (RTA) website label (www.rtalabel.org). ASACP has invested nearly 17 years in developing progressive programs to protect children, and its relationship in assisting the adult industry’s child protection efforts is unparalleled. For more information, visit www.asacp.org.

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