You are hereI*M Europe / I*M Legal Issues / IAP 20/07/99

   
Legal Issues
Legal issues
Internet Policy
EU Actions
Member States
International
Action Plan
Decision
Press Release
Preparatory Actions
Hotlines
Self-rating
Third-party Rating
Awareness
Calls
Hotlines
Filtering / awareness
Calls for Tenders
Evaluators
Promoting Best Use
Audiovisual Policy
Bonn Conference
Competition
Computer Crime
Consumer Protection
Convergence
Promoting Best Use
QuickLinks

Data Protection
Digital Signatures
Domain Names
Electronic Commerce
Information Society
Intellectual property
Internet
Internet Action Plan
Legal Advisory Board (LAB)
Seminars
Web Sites - Cyberlaw
Web Sites - Law in general
Who's Who in the Legal Sector

Action Plan on promoting safer use of the Internet

Technical Background Document
Call for Proposals for projects to demonstrate content filtering and rating systems and to prepare awareness actions

Call for proposals published on 1.4.1999 (OJ Nº C 92/11)
Closing date: 2.7.1999 at 17:00


Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION
ELIGIBILITY FOR PARTICIPATION
SCOPE OF THE PROJECTS
EVALUATION AND SELECTION OF PROPOSALS


INTRODUCTION

Overview

The Action Plan on promoting safer use of the Internet is a multi-annual Community programme covering the period 1999 to 2002, under which several Calls for Proposals are envisaged.

The Commission invites proposals from qualified organisations. Financial support will be on a shared-cost basis. This action addresses the objectives of Action Line 2.1 and Action Line 3.1 of the Action Plan.

This document is intended for organisations planning to submit proposals in response to the Call for Proposals. The information given here should be read in conjunction with the text of the Call as published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

It should be noted that the Commission is funding preparatory actions during 1999 which will give valuable input and help projects advance more rapidly once they have been selected. This work should be taken into account when preparing proposals. Information will be posted on the Action Plan website http://www.echo.lu/iap.

The present Call covers two areas:

  • The application of filtering and rating systems for Internet content.
    The European Commission intends to support the use of filtering and rating systems for Internet content which will permit Internet users (parents, teachers) who have a responsibility for other users (children or pupils to decide what content they wish the persons for whom they are responsible to be able to access. Such systems may be made available by the content provider or by third parties. The decision whether or not to use such systems is the responsible user's.
    The call will take part in two stages. Only consortia containing at least one member which was also a member of a consortium selected in the first stage will be eligible to take part in the restricted call for proposals for the second stage. Projects which merit further Community support will be selected, inter alia, on an evaluation of the progress made. The restricted call is scheduled for March - June 2001.

  • To promote awareness of safer use of the Internet.
    The European Commission intends to fund action to promote awareness of safe use of the Internet in two stages. The present call relates to the first stage. A further call for proposals will be made for full-scale awareness actions (scheduled for March - June 2001).

Schedule of Events

In order to make best use of the available budget, projects selected will be ranked in two lists. Contracts will be concluded with consortia in the first list before the end of 1999, and with consortia in the reserve list at the start of 2000.

The table below gives an indicative timetable for activities, from announcement to commencement of the project work:

Event Date
Announcement of Call in Official Journal 1 April 1999
Close of Call for first evaluation 2 July 1999
Evaluations, consultation with other Commission services and
the Programme Committee, formal Commission decision, contract negotiation
July - November 1999
First list projects start from January 2000
Reserve list projects start from March 2000

ELIGIBILITY FOR PARTICIPATION

Consortium Formation

Proposals are to be made jointly by a group of partners, all of whom must normally be established within the European Union. The partners must include at least 2 entities independent 1 of each other and established in different Member States of the European Union.

Pursuant to article 7 of the Decision, participation in this Action Plan may be opened to legal entities established in EFTA States which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), to legal entities established in associated Central and Eastern European countries, and to legal entities established in Cyprus. Proposals may therefore be submitted by such legal entities once the necessary procedures have been completed. Interested parties should inquire as to the status of these procedures to the address indicated in the Official Journal .

Participation by third country and international organisations may be allowed, without funding from the European Community, where there is an effective contribution to Action Plan implementation and subject to the specific agreement of the Programme Committee and the Commission.

Roles of Participants

Participants in a project (i.e. organisations that carry out the work and contribute towards its financing) may take the following roles:

  • the Co-ordinating Partner who is a principal contributing participant in the project and is mandated to submit the proposal, to sign and fulfil the contract with the Commission on behalf of the group, and who undertakes overall project management responsibility. The Co-ordinator must furnish a copy of his company statutes, or similar document showing his legal status, and a copy of the last audited accounts if the co-ordinator is in the private sector.
  • Partners who normally have full and equal rights to the ownership and exploitation of the results of the project. Before the start of project work, the Co-ordinator shall conclude formal agreements with the Partners to cover their participation in the project and to define as far as possible the exploitation of results and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issuing from the project.

Other entities may be associated with the project work without contributing to its financing. Any contribution to the project work carried out by such associated entities is to be under the responsibility of a formal project partner and any relevant costs are accounted for as external services for that partner.

General Requirements

Proposals must be submitted by one of the partners acting as the Co-ordinator on behalf of all the partners in the project.

Proposals must include full details of each of the participants and agreements by each of them, signed by an authorised person, to participate in the development as described in the proposal.

Proposals must be within the scope of the Call as described in this guide and state which specific issues are addressed.

Proposals must clearly describe the specific development to be undertaken, its objectives, rationale and expected results.

Proposals must give full detail of all tasks to be performed, including allocation of responsibilities among partners, detailed costs and expected deliverables. The tasks should be grouped together into work packages, each covering one aspect of the work, e.g. project management, concertation with users, prototype development, etc. The descriptions should make clear for each work package what has been done already, the current state of the subject matter, the tasks to be performed and the expected result at the conclusion of the work.

The proposals must show evidence of the ability of each participant both to make a significant contribution to the proposed project and to provide the human, material and financial resources for a successful outcome.

Proposals must exemplify co-operation across national boundaries in order to justify support action at the European level, and should represent relevant interests both public and private across a number of Member States. Proposals should present an adequate distribution of both the material work and the financial burden among the partners.

Participants in a project (i.e. organisations that carry out the work and contribute towards its financing) may take the following roles:

  • the Co-ordinating Partner who is a principal contributing participant in the project and is mandated to submit the proposal, to sign and fulfil the contract with the Commission on behalf of the group, and who undertakes overall project management responsibility. The Co-ordinator must furnish a copy of his company statutes, or similar document showing his legal status, and a copy of the last audited accounts if the co-ordinator is in the private sector.
  • Partners who normally have full and equal rights to the ownership and exploitation of the results of the project. Before the start of project work, the Co-ordinator shall conclude formal agreements with the Partners to cover their participation in the project and to define as far as possible the exploitation of results and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issuing from the project.

Other entities may be associated with the project work without contributing to its financing. Any contribution to the project work carried out by such associated entities is to be under the responsibility of a formal project partner and any relevant costs are accounted for as external services for that partner.

General Requirements

Proposals must be submitted by one of the partners acting as the Co-ordinator on behalf of all the partners in the project.

Proposals must include full details of each of the participants and agreements by each of them, signed by an authorised person, to participate in the development as described in the proposal.

Proposals must be within the scope of the Call as described in this guide and state which specific issues are addressed.

Proposals must clearly describe the specific development to be undertaken, its objectives, rationale and expected results.

Proposals must give full detail of all tasks to be performed, including allocation of responsibilities among partners, detailed costs and expected deliverables. The tasks should be grouped together into work packages, each covering one aspect of the work, e.g. project management, concertation with users, prototype development, etc. The descriptions should make clear for each work package what has been done already, the current state of the subject matter, the tasks to be performed and the expected result at the conclusion of the work.

The proposals must show evidence of the ability of each participant both to make a significant contribution to the proposed project and to provide the human, material and financial resources for a successful outcome.

Proposals must exemplify co-operation across national boundaries in order to justify support action at the European level, and should represent relevant interests both public and private across a number of Member States. Proposals should present an adequate distribution of both the material work and the financial burden among the partners.

SCOPE OF THE PROJECTS

Filtering and rating

Objectives

To promote safer use of the Internet, it is important to empower users who are responsible for children so that they can decide what content should be made available to those children. In order to do so, companies must be encouraged to provide them with the tools to make content easier to identify. This can be done through a rating system which describes the content in accordance with a generally recognised scheme (for instance where items such as sex or violence are rated on a scale) and by filtering systems which empower the user to select the content he/she wishes to receive. Ratings may be attached by the content provider, or provided by a third party rating service. There are a number of other schemes which are possible which provide blocking facilities (e.g. software and services which operate by "blacklisting" and "whitelisting"). However, their level of sophistication is still low and none have yet reached the "critical mass" where users can be sure that content in which they are interested and content that they wish to avoid will be rated appropriately and that perfectly innocuous content will not be blocked. Uptake of rating systems by European content providers and users remains low.

The measures under this action line will focus on demonstrating the potential and the limitations of filtering and rating systems in a real world environment, with the objective of encouraging establishment of systems suitable for European use and familiarising users with their use. Filtering and rating schemes must be internationally compatible and interoperable and developed with full co-operation of representatives of industry, consumers and users.

Rating systems will be stimulated which are relevant to European requirements and which ensure that filtering and rating is implemented in a way which provides workable options in practice for users, parents and teachers. In order to build critical mass, a wide coverage of sites should be obtained. Action should therefore be taken to stimulate use of rating by content providers and to ensure multi-lingual issues are addressed.

Methodology

Projects may be considered which give the user control over the use to which an Internet connection is put. Such proposals may include technologies based on metadata content labels, or characteristics of online content to create "filtering and rating systems" to improve access to appropriate information. Classification of information content may be done by content providers (self-rating), third-party experts, local administrators, a survey or vote, or by automated tools (third part rating). Mechanisms which filter content on the basis of classification may be located on the user's personal computer, on a Local Area Network (LAN) or local proxy server, at an Internet Service Provider, on a remote proxy server, or as part of a search engine or Web site.

The demonstration projects should involve self-regulatory bodies, industry (access and service providers, content providers, network operators, software houses) user, consumer and citizens rights groups and government bodies involved in industry regulation and protection of minors.

Account should be taken of work on rating in other media.

Projects will be selected to validate rating systems in relation to European content, to encourage integration of rating into the content creation process and to demonstrate benefits of these technical solutions. Emphasis will be placed on usefulness and practicality in "real-world" situations involving a large cross-section of typical users.

Examples of areas that have been identified as being most in need of further development and could therefore form part of a project are:

Areas related to self-rating

  • Production of recommendations on international rating systems taking account of linguistic and cultural diversity;
  • Development of software profiles which would allow an international rating system to be interpreted into individual cultures;
  • Self-regulatory initiatives to back-up the reliability of self-labelling;
  • Inclusion of facilities for self-labelling in HTML authoring tools;
  • Provision in Web servers of a possibility for authors to register labels, then distribute them.
  • Services to audit the accuracy of self-rating labels;

Areas related to third-party rating

  • Third-party labels from commercial or non-commercial, values-oriented organisations;
  • Searching based on third-party rating services;

Projects might also propose further work in:

  • Definition of user needs, such as consultation processes across Europe to establish the concerns of parents and other supervisors about content which they may wish to filter out;
  • Analysing different ways of using the Internet - interactive communication (chat), individual direct communication (electronic mail), distributed content (newsgroups), file transfer, on-demand or permanent pages (World Wide Web) - and adapting filtering and rating techniques accordingly;
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of different filtering/blocking tools in the European context.

Easy-to-understand information about rating criteria and mechanisms should be made available to allow people to find out what addresses a tool blocks, without compromising proprietary block lists.

The target audiences are software houses, content providers and access providers on one hand and end users on the other.

Awareness

Objectives

The public is increasingly engaging in Internet activity, reaping the benefits of the new services. At the same time there is a degree of uncertainty as to how to deal with every aspect of network communication. Parents, teachers and children need to be made aware of the potential of the Internet and its drawbacks and do not always have sufficient knowledge about means to protect children from undesirable content. Awareness actions contribute towards increasing trust and confidence of parents and teachers in safe use of the Internet by children.

Awareness is also the necessary complement of action line 1 (self-regulation and hot-lines) and action line 2 (filtering and rating), since the actions of industry to implement self-regulation and filtering and rating will only bear fruit if users and potential users are aware of them.

This awareness action is also a response to the request of the European Parliament for the implementation of a European campaign and an information and awareness action programme. That campaign will inform parents and all people dealing with children (teachers, social workers, etc.) about the best way (including technical aspects) to protect minors against exposure to content that could be harmful to their development, so as to ensure their well-being.

European action will create a framework for synergy and co-ordination with action at the level of Member States, and will strengthen initiatives in Member States through exchange of information and experience. The Action Plan will initiate awareness actions that will build on the dissemination of information from access providers to customers and develop material for use in educational institutions.

Electronic distribution of material should be supplemented by more widespread traditional packages for use in schools and libraries. The awareness initiatives will take advantage of the awareness actions carried out under other programmes, such as Netd@ys for Schools and the MIDAS-NET established under INFO2000 .

This action will be carried out in two stages. In the first, preparatory stage the best means of achieving the objectives will be identified and pilot projects will be launched and in the second stage multiplier organisations in the Member States - such as consumer bodies and other relevant associations - will be assisted to implement actions nationally.

The present Call for proposals is for a preparatory action.

Methodology

The preparatory action will:

  • identify multiplier organisations and the most appropriate channels, media and content to reach the target audience;
  • prepare basic material and adapt it for linguistic and cultural specificity;
  • prepare an implementation plan, taking account where relevant of results of demonstration projects relating to filtering and rating;
  • launch pilot projects.

The target audience are parents and teachers and the action will involve industry (Internet service providers, content providers) and multipliers e.g. consumer associations, education organisations.

Funding

Community support will normally be calculated at up to 50% of the allowable costs of project work. An indicative budget for the support of actions in both the first and the reserve lists from this call ( in mio Euros) is:

content self-rating - 1.9
third-party rating - 2.0
awareness actions - 2.5

Proposals will only be examined where the allowable cost is estimated at a minimum of 200,000 Euros.

The Community financial contribution under the present programme may not be cumulated with a payment from any other European Community programme or source for the same project work. The contribution may not include any payment relating to work already carried out.

Funding is normally provided in stages according to the progress of work. An advance is paid and a bank guarantee against satisfactory completion will be required unless the recipients can show adequate available financial capacity.

Allowable Costs

Additional information on the allowable costs is included in the model contract annexed to this guide.

EVALUATION AND SELECTION OF PROPOSALS

Evaluation Process

After the closing date of the Call the Commission will carry out an evaluation of the proposals in two parts:

  • formal verification of eligibility, taking into account the submission requirements and including conformity with the scope of the call, completeness of the proposal, eligibility of participants, supporting documentation and arrival by the stated date;
  • evaluation of proposals verified as eligible.

In carrying out the evaluation, the Commission will seek the advice of appropriate independent experts chosen on the basis of their expertise in technical, industrial, financial, legal or public policy aspects of the subject area of the Call for Proposals.

The evaluation will result in recommendations so as to make the best use of the Community funding available. The Commission's decision on the proposal to be supported will take into account the evaluators' recommendations, the global objectives of the Action Plan of other relevant Community programmes, the budget available and the observations of the Programme Committee which represents the Member States.

Proposers will be informed in writing of the overall results of the evaluation and selection procedures, together with the decision taken regarding their own proposal.

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation takes into account the following criteria:

Conformity with objectives

  • fulfilment of specific objectives set out in points 3.1.2 and 3.2.2 (Methodology);
  • degree to which the needs of the target audience have been taken into account;
  • degree of account taken of requirements of linguistic and cultural diversity;
  • involvement in the project by representative users, relevant associations or groups.

Technical merit and soundness of approach

  • clear performance indicators to determine how conformity with objectives laid down is to be measured for impact and cost-effectiveness;
  • identification of technical obstacles, technical feasibility and the use of the most appropriate technical solutions for users, including user-friendly interfaces;
  • likely market demand at the proposed cost;
  • use of standards;
  • resolution of intellectual property rights questions;
  • effectiveness of plans for dissemination of results.

Organisation and management

  • verifiable objectives, timing and achievement of proposed work;
  • relevant experience of proposers, competence of key personnel and availability of other qualified staff resources;
  • soundness of partnership arrangements, with clear definition of roles and allocation of responsibilities between partners;
  • quality control and work supervision, including management structure and methods.

Financial Aspects

  • soundness of financial plan and availability of matching funds;
  • financial standing of consortium partners in relation to the investments proposed and, for the co-ordinator, in relation to the funding to be handled;
  • commercial viability of proposed products of the project, where appropriate;
  • feasibility in social, regulatory and legal aspects;
  • justification for financial support by the European Communities.

1 independent means less than 25% owned by another enterprise or group from which it is said to be independent


Home - Gate - Back - Top - Filtering Tech - Relevant

Back to Top
EC Home Page
Disclaimer
Search
Personalised I*M Europe
DGXIII Home Page
Feedback
Site map
About this site