updated 12/28/2008 1:45:50 PM ET 2008-12-28T18:45:50

An age-rating system for Internet Web sites may be needed to prevent children from being exposed to unacceptable images, Britain's culture secretary was quoted as saying Saturday.

Andy Burnham, the Culture, Media and Sports Secretary, was quoted as telling The Daily Telegraph newspaper that "clearer standards" are needed online because of the variety of offensive material available.

He said, for example, that it is easy to "view a beheading" on the Internet.

"You can still view content on the Internet which I would say is unacceptable," he said, adding that it would not restrict free speech to limit the viewing of Internet content.

He did not provide details of a possible plan for stricter regulation but suggested Britain may work with the United States on the matter.

Burnham, a father of three young children, said he only allows them to use the Internet when they can be closely supervised.

"This isn't about turning back the clock," he said. "The Internet has been empowering and democratizing in many ways but we haven't yet got the stakes in the ground to help people navigate their way safely around it," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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