The ESRB and CTIA have unveiled details of a previously teased voluntary rating system for mobile apps, with support from six major mobile service and hardware providers but not mobile app leaders Apple and Google.
The new system will let app developers fill out a questionnaire to instantly generate an age-appropriateness rating from 6+ to 18+. The process will be free of charge to developers.
Ratings will take into account content such as violence, sex, language and substance use, as well as features such as the presence of user-generated content, location-sharing and third-party data sharing.
The ESRB says it will "routinely test the most popular applications" to make sure the questionnaire-generated ratings are accurate, and respond to user complaints by promptly adjusting ratings found to be unreliable.
AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless will all offer support the new system on their various app stores and hardware, with each company announcing its own schedule for the roll out in the near future.
"I applaud CTIA and ESRB on this consumer-friendly initiative," Arkansas senator Mark Pryor said in a statement. "It's a win-win when industry takes proactive, responsible steps to protect children from inappropriate content."