What we learned from IARC
IARC is a rating system for online games and apps. IARC, which stands for "International Age Rating Coalition" (https://www.globalratings.com/), is integrated, for instance, into the Google Play store on Android smartphones or Windows Store. Content providers uploading apps in the participating stores must answer a questionnaire; the IARC system then creates an age rating based on the answers.
To make it short: IARC is a great solution - good to learn from
To be honest, the main ideas of age.xml (age-de.xml) are older than the IARC project. But it still makes sense to see what made IARC a success and what we can learn from it. Examples:
- One worldwide solution respecting cultural differences. IARC uses a central but neutral questionnaire but answers might end up in different age ratings in different countries. Sensitivity and demands for youth protection differ and this has to be respected. Even within Europe there are huge differences. age.xml respects this. There can be just one central age.xml to cover the entire world with one age rating (making things easy, and appropriate for content without major cultural differences). But age.xml also offers the possibility to install specific age-xx.xml files for each country or for regions. If necessary there can be a different age rating in every single country of the world.
- IARC depends on developers’ information to deal with a large amount of content. Of course it would be great if all content were to be reviewed by a commission of age classification specialists who then gave an age rating after a fruitful and long personal discussion. But, when confronted with millions of apps in an app store (IARC) or millions of websites (age.xml), the only chance to deal with the sheer quantity is to involve developers, content providers and webmasters in the age classification process. No one knows the content better than the one person who published it. Because they are mostly not experienced specialists in age classification and youth protection, content providers do need solutions and simple questionnaires. Perhaps human commissions would do it a little better – but content providers can do it with good results, as we see in the IARC project.
- If there are problems or wrong ratings, experienced rating bodies in local countries support and control IARC and its results. Many countries also have rating bodies and self-regulation organisations for websites. It would be great to improve this.
- App developers uploading apps to a store using the IARC system don’t need much knowledge regarding technical implementation of parental control. This is also how age.xml works (use our free label generator, please)..
We wish IARC to continue successfully and are happy to learn from it as a parallel solution in the open internet. It’s no competition since the two projects work with different kinds of content – it’s just great to learn from each other.