CTIA-The Wireless Association has launched mobile application rating system that will rate mobile applications based on their appropriateness for various audiences. The rating system will utilise the age rating icons that ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) assigns to computer and video games to provide parents and consumers reliable information about the age-appropriateness of applications.
The rating system, with classifications, from 'Early Childhood' to 'Adults Only', has received the support of its founding members, including AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless, and "other storefronts have indicated their interest in joining," CTIA said. Moreover, Google will reportedly join the team; but confirmation from Apple is yet to come.
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.
CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent commented, "CTIA is proud to have worked with the six founding storefronts, ESRB and developers to create this user-friendly and reliable mobile application rating system that will provide parents and consumers with information so they can determine what's appropriate for children."
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. 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. 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.
"To ensure content disclosures were complete and the ratings assigned were appropriate, ESRB will routinely test the most popular applications and closely monitor consumer complaints. If an inappropriate rating is found to have been assigned ESRB will promptly adjust the rating and will notify the developer and the storefront(s) that have the application to ensure consumers have reliable information."
There is no expiration date associated with app rating assignments and no renewal requirement. However, if subsequent updates to an app modify its content in a way that may affect its rating, it should be resubmitted.