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Wireless Industry Launching Mobile App Rating System

Legislators seeking more parental guidance in the burgeoning world of mobile applications may not be such angry birds after an announcement next week.

Wireless phone companies are announcing a mobile application rating system in concert with the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Wireless companies have been under some pressure from Washington on the issue, particularly the part about giving parents more help in knowing what apps their kids should be downloading, or not downloading, as the case may be. According to CTIA, the ratings will be based on the "age-appropriateness of their content and context," so the effort is clearly one targeted to kids' mobile media consumption.

Among those slated to speak at the Nov. 29 unveiling is Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Chairman of the Commerce Committee's Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee, who has made the impact of media on kids a major issue in his tenure on the Hill including backing a bill that would codify the FCC's fleeting profanity indecency powers and controlling kids access to violence. Also on the program are CTIA President Steve Largent and ESRB President Patricia Vance.

ESRB currently provides ratings for computer and video games.

According to a study released last June by Flurry Analytics, Web users are now spending more time accessing mobile apps than online from their computers, with the most popular app being games.

Another prominent legislator concerned about mobile applications and kids is Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who pushed the Federal Trade Commission in a hearing last May to pay more attention to applications. The FTC has said mobile apps already fall under its purview, but has proposed adding mobile apps explicitly to the Child Online Privacy Protection Act.