CTIA/ESRB Unveil App Rating System

CTIA and the Entertainment Software Rating Board Tuesday unveiled their newly-developed rating system, supported by six "mobile application storefronts." Translation: mobile carriers AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless.

CTIA said other carriers have also expressed interest, but major app players Google and Apple were not listed as participants in the ratings effort. Apple had not returned a call at press time, but a spokesman for Google's Android market said it already has a ratings system.

According to CTIA and ESRB, developers submitting apps to a participating storefront will fill out a multiple-choice questionnaire designed to determine the age-appropriateness of the "content and context" of the app. That will include info on violence or sexual content, language, drugs, and what location or personal information, if any, is shared with third parties.

Once the applications are completed, said CTIA, the rating process takes "seconds." The process is free and the rating will be consistent across the different participating online app stores.

ESRB, which provides videogame ratings, will monitor consumer complaints and test the most popular apps and, if it concludes the rating is inappropriate, will adjust it and notify the developer and storefront.

"We've put a lot of effort into Android Market's rating system, which now works well globally," said Christopher Katsaros, a Google spokesman. "So while we support other systems, we think it's best for Android users and developers to stick with Android's existing ratings which are well known and understood."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.