New 'traffic light' ratings for online vids

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You may soon be able to vote on your own age rating suggestions on online content. In an effort to limit access to online material not suitable for kids, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is working on a system that will give the public the chance to slap suitable ratings on online videos - even for home-produced content.

But will it work?

Red for porn

To a degree, possibly. If a traffic light system is adopted - the most likely option - then green will be similar to a U (Universal) rating while PG (Parental Guidance) will have an amber light equivalent - 12, 12A or 15. Finally, a red light for 18 or R18 (in practice, hardcore porn). The BBFC is joining forces with Dutch media regulator NICAM to tackle the issue.

Just how the project will be implemented isn't clear (the BBFC press office was not taking calls when we contacted them), given the huge numbers of videos uploaded daily (YouTube claims more than 100 hours of video are uploaded to its site every minute).

It's not only about video content. Some of the comments in online content can be concerning for some parents. There are, of course, already age-limit restrictions online. But there is also plenty of Internet content that can tell children how to by-pass these controls.

The area of online certification is, though, spreading. Recently Netflix appealed to the BBFC for certification for its online-only House Of Cards series.


Off the rails

Meanwhile, the BBFC has received its first complaint about the much-loved family film classic The Railway Children, starring Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins. A member of the public, the BBFC confirmed in its latest annual report, complained that "children may be encouraged to play on railway tracks as a result of seeing the films".

"The Railway Children is set in the Edwardian period and trains and access to railway property are very different today," the BBFC censor responded. "The film also demonstrates the potential harm to children if proper care is not taken."