Feeds

Game laws to make underage selling illegal

Vendors to be legally bound to think of the children

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Digital Britain The Government has abandoned its hybrid approach to age-rating computer games in favour of a single system. One method will now be used to rate all games in the UK and a new law will give regulators statutory power over game rating.

Computer games are currently only controlled by legally-enforceable ratings if they contain grossly violent or sexual content. The Government has said that it will introduce new legislation to extend the law to all ratings.

It will do this by giving new legal powers to the Video Standards Council (VSC) to operate classification for all games based on the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) system. PEGI has the backing of industry group the European Leisure Software Publishers' Association (ELSPA).

Currently games can carry ratings produced either by PEGI or by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

Just last year the Government said that it wanted to create a unified hybrid regime. Under that proposal, games would be classified by a hybrid of PEGI ratings for games for children and BBFC ratings for games for people aged 12 or over.

It has now abandoned that hybrid approach in favour of all-PEGI ratings with strengthened legal backing. In its Digital Britain report, the Government said that the new system will use the force of the law for the first time in protecting children from inappropriate content.

"[The new system] will offer improved protection for children including, for the first time, making it illegal to sell games suitable for 12 and older to underage children," said the report.

The Government's consultation was prompted by a report by child psychologist Dr Tanya Byron on the safety of children in relation to digital media. Though the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said in its consultation document last August that Byron preferred its hybrid system, she has now backed the single, PEGI system.

"In my review to Government I identified the need to improve the video games classification system," she said. "I identified some fundamental criteria including making games suitable for 12-year-olds and above subject to statutory control."

"I also said the system had to have child safety at its heart and have the ability to adapt to future challenges. All these criteria are important for ensuring that parents have the tools they need to make informed choices and keep their children safe," she said. "The PEGI system has been strengthened since my review and the Government has consulted widely on each of my suggested criteria. I support the Government’s decision to combine the PEGI system with UK statutory oversight."

The law currently governing ratings is the Video Recordings Act of 1984. "Introducing a new system of classification and increasing the statutory role of the VSC will require primary legislation," said a DCMS statement. "When fully established, the VSC will commission research into UK sensibilities and be able to offer the public reassurance that their views have been taken into account within the wider guidelines."

The Digital Britain report can be read here (pdf), and supporting documents from the DCMS are available here.

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.