Video games developers will now be able to certify the privacy of their mobile applications under an expanded program offered by the industry's self-regulatory body, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).

The ESRB expanded its existing privacy certification program to help companies achieve compliance with the new changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule. To that end, the group said the certification program focuses on issues like obtaining parental consent, creating short-form notices for apps, ongoing compliance monitoring and reporting, and dealing with the Rule's broadened definition of personal information, which now includes photos and videos.

"Privacy protection is an imperative for companies of all sizes, especially when kids are involved. But achieving compliance with requirements like COPPA can be complicated, particularly for rapidly evolving platforms like mobile," Dona Fraser, vice president of ESRB Privacy Certified, said in a statement. "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."

The program will offer certification in three different categories of privacy: a general audience Web site that complies with global privacy laws and best practices; a child-directed Web site or app that complies with applicable laws and requirements, including COPPA; and a mobile app that the group determines is in compliance with mobile privacy standards and best practices. Members that achieve compliance will be entitled to display one of the three seals on the game's privacy policy.

ESRB noted that its existing Privacy Certified program is one of just five that have earned Safe Harbor status from the Federal Trade Commission, adding that none of its certified members have "ever faced investigations or penalties from the FTC or state attorneys general related to their COPPA disclosures or practices – a testament to the program's ability to protect members." The group is waiting on agency approval for Safe Harbor status for its updated program but has already begun the process of certifying members.

Why it matters: With the changes to the COPPA Rule in full effect as of July 1, and the use of mobile apps continuing to rise, the ESRB's Privacy Certified program can provide peace of mind for video game makers seeking to achieve compliance with stronger privacy laws and regulations.