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Implementing iRights on CBBFC

iRights provides a framework of five simple rights by which everyone – parents, teachers, corporations, governments, technology companies and young people themselves, can interrogate how they interact with young people in the digital world.

Here BBFC Head of Education, Lucy Brett, discusses implementing the iRights framework on our website for children, CBBFC.

Date 04/08/2015

Implementing iRights on CBBFC

At the BBFC our work, providing age ratings for films and home entertainment media like DVDs and Blu-rays, now expands into the online space. This includes working on self-regulatory tools for age rating user generated content with other regulators, offering advice or adjudicating on the blocking and unblocking of websites accessed via mobile 'phone networks, and providing non-statutory ratings for Video-on-Demand services.

We also take our commitment to public accountability seriously. We offer information about our work in age ratings, media regulation and our history to children and adults via our apps and websites. These include CBBFC, which is a website designed specifically for younger film fans who want to know what age rating a film has received and how the classification process works.

Protecting children is one of our primary concerns, so signing up to the iRights coalition to support the rights of children online was an easy decision - putting the needs and desires of young web users, as articulated by them, at the centre of our online offering.

Signing up for iRights seems entirely natural for our organisation. We provide web content for children to give them engaging information on an issue that matters to them. Moreover we have a specific remit for the protection of children by safely regulating material they view on and offline.

The main obstacle to making our website fully iRights compliant was simply that our web content for younger audiences was already established. Our children's website, CBBFC, re-launched in its current format two years ago. It was built to offer clear accessible information on UK age ratings and how they work for older primary school children and their parents and teachers.

This posed an issue others may face. Unlike those who could use the iRights charter, and the fascinating insights their research offers, as part of their initial planning, we had to revisit our decisions, checking we adhere to the charter in practice and spirit in material we've already created.

Some of this is simple and straightforward. Much of what was there fitted with the basic briefs, which I suspect is true of most educational websites for younger users, notably many of the sites run by partners in our field which inherently support the rights to media literacy.

But we realised some simple steps were missing. We hadn't offered a lot of information about the Privacy and Terms and Conditions of the website in child friendly language, for example, having feared it may be boring. We rectified this, and made legal language comprehensible as far as possible for younger groups looking to excellent examples from other iRights signatories.

Other modifications were straightforward too. Offering links for young users to easily notify us, or relevant partner organisations, of any material that they had seen online that might be problematic, for example. Also identifying when (if ever) their data might be collected so their choices could be always informed.

Our site doesn't currently offer opportunities to upload data which might need to be deleted, but in the spirit of clarity we highlighted this too. And we are working on updating our cookie information again to be as clear as possible about how this works.

For newer sites, launched since this initiative, the task of incorporating the aims from the foundations is key. But for us the challenge was one of assessing our existing material and thumbing out what is already in the spirit of the iRights charter, which is itself a valuable record of the views of young people and their desire for information and enabling online, and what was missing.

It is quite correct that children and young adults should tell us about their online lives and experiences, point out the flaws and the failings of the mainly adult created online space, tease out the meanings of 'harmful' and 'difficult' and make requests, suggestions and demands. Working on iRights is a reminder that we should always seek to offer the most comprehensive relevant information to our younger consumers.


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