US FTC: Report on access and content of virtual worlds

The H.R. 1105 Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 which became Public Law No: 111-8 on 11 th March 2009 states in the notes to  ‘DIVISION D-FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2009′ the following:

“In September of 2000, the FTC released a report entitled: “Marketing Violent  Entertainment to Children: A Review of Self-Regulation and Industry Practices in the Motion. Picture, Music Recording & Electronic Game Industries.” The report was highly critical of the entertainment industry and its persistent and calculated marketing of violent games; movies, and music to children. In response to this report, the entertainment industry has promised to impose tougher regulations on itself and to voluntarily comply with the report’s recommendation. The FTC should continue with, and expand upon, its efforts in this area. The FTC is directed to continue to engage in consumer research and workshops, underage shopper-retail compliance surveys, and marketing data collection.

Concerns have been raised regarding reports of explicit content that can be easily accessed by minors on increasingly popular virtual reality web programs. The FTC is directed to issue a consumer alert to educate parents on the content that is available to children on virtual reality web programs. In addition, no later than nine months after enactment of this Act, the FTC shall submit a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations discussing the types of content on virtual reality sites and what steps, if any, these sites take to prevent minors from accessing content.”

The report was released December 2009 under the title – Virtual Worlds and Kids: Mapping the Risks.

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