App classification targets little guys: Pirates

App classification targets little guys: Pirates

Summary: The Australian Pirate Party has today taken aim at the Labor Party for intentions to close a classification loophole that would require mobile app developers — big and small — to submit their work for classification.


The Australian Pirate Party has today taken aim at the Labor Party for intentions to close a classification loophole that would require mobile app developers — big and small — to submit their work for classification.

Australian Pirate Party logo

The Australian Pirate Party has condemned Labor's app classification plan in the lead-up to the Federal Election. (Credit: Australian Pirate Party)

The Australian IT reported yesterday that a spokesperson for the Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor said that they were "concerned about the classification of [mobile] games and had put the wheels in motion to address it with state and territory counterparts".

The Pirate Party has said that any mandatory classification scheme would be a "direct assault" on the software industry, saying that many app developers are hobbyists and as such cannot afford to put their application through the classification process.

Pirate Party spokesperson, Simon Frew, said that the plan would hurt local app developers who would move to distribute their creations in overseas markets.

"I don't think the plan would force [developers] to stop building apps, it might stop them from releasing them in Australia. They'd sooner go overseas and that's a problem ... if we want a market for developers here," Frew told ZDNet Australia.

Frew had concerns over where the government would draw the line if the plan became a reality.

"If they were to apply it consistently across the entire internet, it must apply to all Facebook games, Flash games, YouTube clips, podcasts and blogs," he said.

Frew said that it is infeasible to force every independent app developer who builds games as a hobby to participate in a classification process that has the potential to cost upwards of $1000.

"I don't know if they have really thought this through properly, but it's essentially [going after the little guy]," Frew said.

Pirate Party spokesperson Brendan Molloy said that small app developers would be muscled out by the cost of participating in the classification process.

"Many of these apps and games sell for extremely low prices. How does the government propose that these simple hobbyists gather the required capital to create a simple app or game and release it to the public?" Molloy asked.

Steve Bian, app developer and Pirate Party participant, also holds the sentiment that the mandatory classification process is unnecessary.

"Many of these games would be G-rated since many are puzzle games or platformers. These games are harmless, and yet they will be hit just as hard as those involving sex and violence and [will] most likely disappear from the Australian [iTunes] App Store due to costs involved [with classification]," Bian argued.

While the Australian chapter of the Pirate Party missed out on having a candidate in the upcoming federal election, it remains vocal throughout the campaign.

Topics: Censorship, Government AU

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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  • The vast, vast majority of games on the App Store would be lucky to make $100 in *Australian* sales. If you require them pay a fee to get classified, then nobody's going to do it - it's as simple as that.
    Dean Harding
  • it all ready costs 100 dollars per developer once off fee to apple to let you submit apps plus you need to buy a mac to make and test n package/upload it
    takes 2 - 3 weeks for apple to approve apps they already scrutinize for content any app can be removed by apple at any time eg: slot machine app so if there was a app people didn't like they could complain and have it removed so you are telling me it will cost more $apple already takes 50% of the sale then we pay tax on our half
    bottom line it ill take months for our apps to be approved apps are also updated sometimes 5- 10 times a year will updates need to go through this process to and a fee payed then stuf it if so ill upload my apps to underground appstore CYDIA and sell them for free with paid adds on them ohhh i forgot the gov might add that http to the internet filter blacklist
  • I believe that Apple, MS, Google (Market), FB publishers or any developer that is selling a game should have to have their commercial game classified, other then bing required under Australian law, it gives me important information that allows me to make an informed decision when purchasing games for my young child.

    I also agree that the cost of getting the classification is pretty expensive for a small time developer or hobbyists and there should be a mechanism that helps small independent / Hobbyist developers to get their games classified for free or at a dramatically reduced cost as a way of promoting the games development industry in Australia.
  • Good.

    It's about time someone did something about it. Mobile telcos wash their hands of any wrong doing when an app or service gets sold via their site so someone should be held accountable.