British Board of Film Classification

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Q&A

The Classification Framework is based on the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines which are the result of regular large scale public consultation as well as UK Law, including as it relates to age restricted products and services, and credible media effects research.

The Classification Framework is a living document which adapts to reflect evolving public attitudes and societal concerns.

Q: How will the Classification Framework be used?

A: The Classification Framework applies across a broad range of content accessible over mobile networks.

For Commercial Content, the Classification Framework will be applied to the following categories:

  • Still pictures
  • Video and audio/video material
  • Mobile (including java based) games

The definition of commercial content and commercial content provider is set out in the mobile operators’ Code of Practice

The Classification Framework will also be used to calibrate the filters used by the Operators to restrict access to Internet Content via mobile networks by those under 18.

The Framework defines content which meets the BBFC’s 18 or R18 Guidelines and is therefore suitable for adults only. This may include strong sadistic violence, sexual violence, dangerous behaviour, hard drug use and so on.

More information can be found here.

Q. Why is the approach taken by the mobile operators with respect to commercial content different to general Internet content?

Mobile operators have different responsibilities for commercial content – where they have contractual agreements with content providers – than they do for general content on the Internet.

The mobile operators’ commercial content is classified in accordance with the framework provided by the independent body and any content with an 18 rating is placed behind access controls.   

With respect to Internet content, the mobile operators are not rating content or services but offer a filter to customers. The Classification Framework will be used to calibrate the filters used by the Operators to restrict access to Internet Content (ie content delivered by URLs) via mobile networks by those under 18.

Q: What about wi-fi and Bluetooth?

A: The Framework applies to content accessed via mobile networks only, not other wireless technologies such as wi-fi and Bluetooth.

Q: What about Apps?

A: For Apps stores, it is the responsibility of the Apps store provider to enforce their own terms and conditions.

Q: What about advertisements?

A: Online advertisements remain the responsibility of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

For more information please refer to http://www.asa.org.uk/

Q: What about age restricted goods?

A: The Classification Framework does not cover sites which supply age restricted goods or services such as knives, fireworks, tobacco, legal highs, alcohol, gambling or adult entertainment unless any adult filters in place block on the basis of the types of content listed in Part B of the Classification Framework. It is the retailer’s responsibility to utilise effective age verification systems when it comes to supplying customers with age restricted goods or services, and the relevant local Trading Standards service is responsible for the enforcement of this consumer related legislation.

Further information can be found here

Q: What about premium rate voice messaging and SMS services?

A: The Framework will not cover premium rate voice or premium rate SMS text only services, which continue to operate under the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice.

For more information go to http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk.

Q: How will I know if content is being blocked on my / my child’s mobile device?

A: If you or your child attempt to access content where access controls or an internet filter is in place, an appropriate message will appear on the screen informing you how the age restriction can be removed. Only those that can demonstrate that they are at least 18 will be able to do so. 

Q: What if a content provider is unsure their material is suitable for adults only?

A: We offer an advice service to mobile operators and commercial content providers for borderline cases, specifically whether or not particular content should be behind access controls according to the Classification Framework. 

More information is available here.

Q: What kind of content is not deemed by the BBFC as suitable for adults only?

A: Content which is not placed behind access controls will not always be suitable for all children. Such content may include strong language, sexualised content, violence and so on, and may typically be rated 12 or 15 by the BBFC at the cinema or on video. The context in which such issues are presented is also central to the question of whether or not they need to go behind access controls.  That context may either aggravate an issue (for example language is used aggressively) or mitigate (for example comedy may soften the effect). Parents are advised to consider whether the content their children access is suitable for their age.

Q: What about 'glamour' works?

A: Works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation are considered sex works and will be restricted to adults only. While pornographic content is restricted to adults, BBFC policy on ‘glamour’ works makes some allowance for content whose primary purpose may fall short of sexual arousal or stimulation, but which has clear suggestive intentions. Such 'glamour' video content may contain brief moments of sexualised posing where there is no focus on such content. Obvious sexual posing which is intended to arouse or stimulate rather than being merely suggestive is unlikely to be allowable in still images that are not placed behind access controls.

Q: Is the BBFC censoring the internet?

A: No. Any customer that is able to demonstrate that they are at least 18 is able to have access controls and filters removed.

Q: Will I see BBFC symbols on the internet?

A: No. You will not see BBFC symbols in relation to the Classification Framework.

Q: Where can I read more about the BBFC’s Guidelines?

A: You can access the Guidelines here.

Q: What if the material is illegal?

A: It is a content provider’s responsibility to ensure that they are not posting any illegal content on the internet. 

Please contact the Internet Watch Foundation (http://www.iwf.org.uk/if you find child sex abuse content.

Q: Is ‘on demand’ programming included?

A: No. The Authority For Television On Demand (ATVOD) has been designated as the appropriate regulatory authority for the editorial content of On Demand Programme Services.

For more information please refer to http://www.atvod.co.uk/

Q: What about websites offering dating services ?

A: These are covered only if they contain material that is considered by the BBFC to be suitable only for 18 year olds or over (as set out in Part B of the Classification Framework).  The ASA will regulate all advertising material related to dating websites.

Q: How often is the Framework updated?

A: The Classification Framework is updated regularly to reflect evolving public attitudes and societal concerns. It has been developed using the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines. The Guidelines are based on large scale public consultations involving around 10,000 people, and are revised every 4-5 years. 

Q: What do I do if I see content which I think should be behind access controls or filters, or has been placed behind access controls or filters unnecessarily?

A: In the first instance please contact the mobile operator. If this does not resolve the issue, appellants can contact the BBFC for adjudication. 

Further details are available here.

Q: Is there a link to an online complaints form?

A: Complaints can be made here.

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