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Apple, Google apps face smut and violence ratings

Five-point scale to separate PG from adult-only filth

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Apps could be scored on sex and violence if Apple and Google approve a voluntary rating system proposed by the American Wireless Association, the CITA, and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).

The rating grades apps on a sliding scale of one to five – from “everyone” to “adults only”. Intended for parental guidance, the categories are age-specific and use the same criteria as the Software Board's video game ratings.

The criteria focus on the old favourites: "violence, sexual or suggestive content, nudity, language, substances, etc" as well as contextual elements such as setting (fantasy vs realistic).

The nature of the depictions – ie, whether they are stylised or photo-realistic – are also taken into account and so is the user's perspective (up close vs distant).

The Entertainment Software Rating Board system has already been agreed by Microsoft for its Windows Phone apps, but the rating won't have much impact on consumers until it is adopted by the big two stores: Apple and Android.

Apple already operate a strict no-porn policy on their app store, rejecting exposed nipples for starters, so we doubt many iOS apps would fall into the outre Adult Only category.

The CTIA has pushed some of the more difficult decisions out to its store partners: for example it will be up to individual stores to decide whether apps like newspapers can have a set rating or need to be reclassified as content changes. ®

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