SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - What'll it be? Chaste romance, or explicit sex? Harmless conflict, or wanton and gratuitous violence? The newest version of Microsoft's Web browser lets computer users be as nasty as they wanna be.
Internet Explorer 3.0 allows parents to decide exactly how much sex and violence they - and their children - can see while on the Internet.
Users control four categories: violence, nudity, sex and language. They select settings in each category on a scale of 0 to 4 - 0 for the mildest content, 4 for the most extreme.
Once the settings are adjusted, the Web browser will automatically filter out unacceptable sites.
When a user tries to enter a prohibited site, this message appears: "Sorry! Content Advisor will not allow you to see this site. ... If you want to see this site anyway, you must get somebody to type in the supervisor password."
The ratings system was developed by the Recreational Software Advisory Council of Lexington, Mass., a nonprofit industry group formed to rate computer games and the Web. More than 4,000 Web sites have already registered, and 100 a day are joining the system, said Stephen Balkam, the council's executive director.
Netscape plans to incorporate the rating system in the next version of its browser, said spokeswoman Donna Sokolsky. America Online and CompuServer users will be able to use the rating system within the year.
"I accept certain levels of sexuality or nudity in TV and movies for my 11-year-old daughter, but I don't like her playing Doom because of the violence," Balkam said. "But I know parents who feel exactly the opposite, blood and gore are fine, but no sex, please."
In the sex category, for example, users can set their system to Level 0, romance, no sex; Level 1, passionate kissing; Level 2, clothed sexual touching; Level 3, non-explicit sexual activity; or Level 4, explicit sexual activity, sex crimes.
Under violence, the choices range from: "harmless conflict, some damage to objects" to "humans injured or with small amount of blood" and "wanton and gratuitous violence; torture; rape."
Violence Rate Descriptor: Level 0: Harmless conflict, some damage to objects. Level 1: Creatures injured or killed; damage to objects, fighting. Level 2: Humans injured or with small amount of blood. Level 3: Humans injured or killed. Level 4: Wanton and gratuitous violence; torture; rape.
Nudity Rating Descriptor Level 0: No nudity or revealing attired. Level 1: Revealing attire. Level 2: Partial nudity. Level 3: Non-sexual frontal nudity. Level 4: Provocative frontal nudity.
Sex Rating Descriptor Level 0: Romance, no sex. Level 1: Passionate kissing. Level 2: Clothed sexual touching. Level 3: Non-explicit sexual activity. Level 4: Explicit sexual activity; sex crimes.
Language Rating Descriptor Level 0: Inoffensive slang; no profanity. Level 1: Mild expletives. Level 2: Expletives; non-sexual anatomical references. Level 3: Strong, vulgar language; obscene gestures; racial epithets. Level 4: Crude or explicit sexual references; etreme hate speech.