MOBILESPACE—CTIA, the international nonprofit association representing wireless carriers, in collaboration with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), has announced the development of a mobile application ratings system to be implemented next year. The announcement is an extension of CTIA’s 2010 Guidelines for Application Content Classification and Rating.
In a press release issued today, CTIA stated, “The CTIA Mobile Application Rating System with ESRB will utilize the well-known and trusted age rating icons that ESRB assigns to computer and video games to provide parents and consumers reliable information about the age-appropriateness of applications. Today’s announcement is an extension of CTIA’s 2010 Guidelines for Application Content Classification and Rating.
“AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless are the founding members of the rating system, and other storefronts have indicated their interest in joining. As technologies and build-out schedules differ by each storefront, full implementation timelines will vary; each storefront may make its own announcement on when the rating system will be available for their customers.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the age-based ratings categories will be the same as those used by ESRB for video games, adding, “The carriers, which sell apps via their own storefronts—much as Apple Inc.'s iTunes sells music—are expected to roll out the ratings sometime next year. Each carrier will decide for its own store whether the ratings will be mandatory for some or all apps, or entirely voluntary.”
iPhone apps will not be covered, since Apple already monitors them for inclusion in the Apple App Store.
The ratings process begins when apps are submitted to storefronts.
“When developers submit their applications to a participating storefront they will be able to complete a detailed yet quick multiple choice questionnaire that is designed to assess an application’s content and context with respect to its age-appropriateness,” the CTIA announcement reads. “This includes violence or sexual content, language, substances, etc., as well as other elements such as a minimum age requirement, the exchange of user-generated content, the sharing of a user’s location with other users of the application and the sharing of user-provided personal information with third parties.
“Once developers complete all answers to these questions, their applications are rated within seconds,” it continues. “Each rated app is issued a certificate and a unique identifying code that may be subsequently submitted to other storefronts during their respective onboarding processes, avoiding the need for developers to repeat the rating process. This means consistent ratings across participating storefronts and a convenient, cost-free process for app developers.”
Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) said of the ratings initiative, “I applaud CTIA and ESRB on this consumer-friendly initiative. It’s a win-win when industry takes proactive, responsible steps to protect children from inappropriate content.”
ECRB ratings for video games are:
Titles rated EC (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
Titles listed as RP (Rating Pending) have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)
For more information about CTIA, go here.
For more information about ESRB, go here.