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The Entertainment Software Ratings Board, better known as the ESRB, is gaming’s self-regulating body. In addition to labeling the latest first-person shooter with a “T for teen” or “M for mature” age rating, the group also helps mobile-game creators to better comply with privacy standards.
Above: An upfront privacy disclosure in a mobile app.
Image Credit: ESRB
Today, the ESRB is announcing an expansion to its Privacy Certified program that rates mobile apps for how well they protect users’ data. The group will now offer services that will aid developers in implementing privacy best practices.
The ESRB will focus its efforts on making sure that any game targeted at children complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule, which the Federal Trade Commission will begin enforcing July 1.
“Privacy protection is an imperative for companies of all sizes, especially when kids are involved,” said Donna Fraser, the vice president of ESRB Privacy Certified. “But achieving compliance with requirements like COPPA can be complicated, particularly for rapidly evolving platforms like mobile. By extending our services beyond website operators to include mobile app developers as well, we are helping ensure that their products provide a trustworthy environment for user interaction and information sharing.”
Some of the issues developers might face include figuring out what type of engagement the current rules allow for children under 13. The ESRB will help studios determine what data they can even collect and help them with the upfront disclosures that lists all of information the game is collecting.
“There are currently several proposed solutions but no standardized approach that would best serve consumers,” Fraser told GamesBeat. “These types of challenges are precisely why we’ve expanded our program to include services for mobile apps. The FTC has increasingly focused on mobile privacy, particularly in terms of disclosing to users what information is collected about them and how it is used. Our expert guidance helps websites and apps ensure they’re compliant with the thicket of privacy requirements they must follow and our Safe Harbor status helps to safeguard them against potential sanctions from the FTC.”
Fraser points out that the ESRB has never had a single program member face enforcement from the FTC or state attorneys general.