The President on December 2, 2008, signed the “Child Safe Viewing Act” making it law. The Act, which was introduced by Sen. Pryor (D-Ark), requires the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to investigate technologies designed to assist parents control what their children view on television or the Internet. Specifically, the Act requires the FCC to initiate a notice of inquiry to examine the availability of advanced blocking technologies that are compatible with a variety of communications devices or platforms, and to explore methods of encouraging the development, deployment, and use of such technologies in a manner that does not impact the packaging or pricing of a content provider’s offering. Lastly, the Act states that the FCC must examine parental empowerment tools and initiatives already in the market.

The Act specifies that when conducting the inquiry, the FCC must consider advanced blocking technologies that:

  • may be appropriate across a range of distribution platforms;
  • may be appropriate across a variety of devices that can transmit or receive video or audio programming;
  • can filter language using information in closed captioning;
  • are independent of ratings pre-assigned by the creator of video or audio programming; and
  • may assist parents protect their children from indecent or objectionable programming as defined by the parent.