CTIA plans to develop mobile app rating system

CTIA-The Wireless Association has committed to developing a mobile applications ratings system that the organization hopes to launch by the end of 2011. Calling for voluntary self-certification of apps, the program is being developed based on CTIA's “Guidelines for App Content Classification and Ratings.” The goal is to offer a ratings scale for parents who want to determine which applications are appropriate, or in appropriate, for their children. Prior to the first app store in July 2008, there were few apps available and even fewer consumers who used them. With more than 800,000 apps now available on at least 11 different operating systems, CTIA’s initiative to rate apps is “part of the wireless industry's continued commitment to empowering consumers,” said CTIA president/CEO Steve Largent.

Other features of the apps rating system would designate any app content generally recognized “as appropriate only for, or that is legally restricted to, persons at least 18 years of age” as restricted content. Participants in the CTIA program will not make restricted app content available to consumers “until controls are available that allows consumers to restrict access to such content.”

The CTIA also references third-party ratings systems by stating that “existing third-party ratings systems are currently not being applied to mobile applications … We encourage ratings organizations to rate mobile applications within their areas of expertise so participants can generally leverage those ratings.”

As part of the effort to develop such a ratings system, CTIA has issued a request for proposal to build and maintain an online questionnaire and database system for rating app content. With this online system, developers can enter information about their app’s content, during the on-boarding process at participating app storefronts, and an age-appropriate rating will be applied based on the information inputted. For more information on the request for proposal, contact wic@ctia.org.