Government publishes Byron Review action plan

Four month public consultation on age-ratings, public awareness campaign and advertising standards to be reviewed

The UK Government has published what it describes as a comprehensive action plan to make the internet and videogames safer for children and young people.

Beginning this July, the government plans a four month public consultation on the reform of the videogames classification system, followed by published proposals in early 2009.

The Department of Culture Media and Sport will also work with the industry to agree on the classification of online games.

"The UK videogames industry is a real success story and the internet is now part of our lives in a way that we couldn't have imagined a few years ago," commented Margaret Hodge, Culture Minister.

"But just because these technologies are fast-moving and exciting doesn't mean that we shouldn't have appropriate safeguards.

"By taking forward Dr Byron's recommendations we will help children to safely navigate the internet and allow parents to make informed decisions about what is appropriate for their child," she said.

By autumn 2008, the government also hopes to begin raising awareness of videogame ratings to the general public.

This will involve working with games retailers to promote safety and working with the industry on developing parental controls for videogame platforms.

Trading Standards will also be roped in to monitor sales of videogames to ensure they are not sold to minors.

The Committee on Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee on Advertising Practices is to review advertising codes and the advertising of videogames, with revised codes drawn up for 2009, and the Advertising Standards Authority assessing videogame adverts from autumn 2008.

The most contentious aspect of the Byron Review for the games industry is the recommendations around the ratings system in the UK, with publishers unhappy at the prospect of more responsibility being given to the BBFC at the expense of PEGI.

EA's VP and general manager for the UK, Ireland and the Nordic regions earlier told that such proposals would lead to delays in videogames reaching British retail shelves.

The full action plan can be read here.

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