When we talk about self-labeling by adult websites, we don't mean just "Warning " pages - though ASACP does recommend in its Best Practices that all adult sites feature image-free front/warning pages. Self-labeling with RTA is expressly for the purpose of enabling parents to better protect their children from viewing adult material online. Self-labeling for this purpose requires that a specific code be embedded in the page header meta tags of every page on an adult site.
How does it work?
Embedding code in the page header meta tags enables filtering via web browsers, ISPs, firewall/proxy servers, plugins, toolbars, commercial filtering software and even operating systems. Such a tag could even be used to label individual social networking site user pages that feature adult content. The RTA tag is already recognized by various
filtering products and services, and ASACP is working to partner with many more. Click here for Power Point demonstration.
What's been tried in the past?
Probably the best-known example of self-applied labeling is ICRA, the Internet Content Rating Association. ICRA enables sites of all kinds to label themselves according to their content, so that parents and other users can choose what sort of material will or will not be viewable online. Many adult sites label their pages with ICRA; many others do not.
Is the government going to make self-labeling mandatory?
Several pending bills in Congress could require adult websites to label all pages featuring adult content. Like all legislation, these bills may face political and legal hurdles. Mandatory self-labeling by adult sites may or may not become federal law. However, it is clear that labeling of all adult sites has plenty of support in Congress. One of our goals is to help head that off!
Why should I label my site, if it's not the law?
Mandatory self-labeling by adult sites may or may not become federal law. However, you can be sure that the government will keep tossing new rules against the wall until one finally sticks - unless adult companies demonstrate that the industry is capable of self-regulation. Nobody knows how a government-devised labeling system would work - or how it might affect your business. To avoid having new rules imposed, the adult industry needs to take the initiative, so it can't be portrayed as a "menace to children."
Won't labeling set me up for censorship?
Site labels, keywords, domain names - even certain types of images - can all be used by ISPs or other online intermediaries to filter out content. But those providers already filter based on numerous criteria - for subscribers who want that kind of filtering. They don't just impose filtering on unsuspecting users; that would be disastrous for their business. As for government censorship: if certain conservative lawmakers could get away with making all pornography illegal, they would. But they can't. Even the age verification provisions in COPA (the Child Online Protection Act) were kept tied up in the courts for years! Are you worried about the government ordering all ISPs to block all porn sites for all users? That's simply not a realistic concern. The bottom line is, site labeling will help keep your material from reaching kids and other people who don't want to view adult content, but will leave it accessible for consenting adults.
If I label and my competitors don't, won't they have an advantage?
Only if they're selling to minors, which is illegal! Adult companies are only interested in selling adult entertainment to adults. Therefore there is simply no business advantage to not labeling, and no business disadvantage to using RTA. In fact, ASACP plans to work with search engines and ISPs to try and make site labeling a business advantage.
U.S. sites might label, but what about sites based in other countries?
Actually, some foreign sites do label, to comply with rules in their own countries - and even with U.S. laws. For instance, plenty of companies outside the United States comply with 2257 regulations. But even if no foreign sites labeled, labeling by U.S. sites will still help fill in the gaps in effective parental filtering. Plus, it will demonstrate responsible business practices by the domestic adult industry. We'll be doing our part!
Isn't labeling a hassle?
Not with RTA, it's not! The RTA label is a simple meta tag you can paste into the header of any web page. There's no online form to fill out, no registration, no fee. RTA does not differentiate between hardcore and softcore, or between gay and straight. For webmasters with lots of pages on their sites, using Perl scripts and similar shortcuts may also help speed up the process.
Does labeling really protect children?
Labeling helps protect children from viewing age-inappropriate content online - as long as parents make sure to activate Parental Controls! Such controls are available to parents through ISPs, browsers, search engines, filtering software and even operating systems. Parents need to do their part, and webmasters need to do their part.
Why not just use ICRA?
ASACP encourages adult websites to label with ICRA, or RTA - or both! However, we believe that adult companies will be more comfortable with the RTA label since it comes from ASACP, an organization supported by and friendly to the adult industry for ten years. Plus, the RTA label is a simple variation on "adults only" rather than a multi-level rating system. There's no complicated rating process. You just copy and paste the RTA meta tag into the header of any page you want to restrict to adults.
What else can I do to help?
Let your business associates, affiliates, and anyone else you work with know about RTA. Spread the word via email, newsletters and billing statements. Help make RTA the adult industry standard! And of course, you can join ASACP - we are completely funded by contributions from our sponsors and members!
What is ASACP?
Founded in 1996, the Association of Sites Advocating
Child Protection (ASACP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating child pornography from the Internet. ASACP battles child pornography through its CP reporting hotline, and by organizing the efforts of the online adult industry to combat the heinous crime of child sexual abuse.