Apple rejects Conroy's big red button app as devs feared

Apple rejects Conroy's big red button app as devs feared

Summary: The Australian government's cybersafety app for iOS was deemed too similar to a web link for Apple to approve.

(Credit: Sony)

The Australian government's big red button for cybersafety was rejected from the iTunes app store for being too similar to a web link, documents released under Freedom of Information have revealed.

In 2010, the government launched a software based red button for the desktop, which allowed a child who was being bullied or facing other problems online, to click a button and be directed to a website that shows them what they can do. The website would explain, for example, how to report issues to Facebook or how to report something to the police.

The government allocated AU$136,000 to the program, although, at last report, only $113,000 of this had been spent. Since the launch, the government has also released versions of the program for browsers, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, and Android.

A Freedom of Information request by online rights advocate Geordie Guy today revealed that, in October 2011, Apple rejected the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy's version of the app for iOS because it was deemed too similar to a web link.

"We found that the experience your app provides is not sufficiently different from a web browsing experience as it would be by incorporating native iOS functionality," the rejection letter stated

"We encourage you to review your app concept and evaluate whether you can incorporate additional features to enhance the user experience. Alternatively, you may wish to consider building a web app using HTML5."

The emails from the department reveal that the government had suspected from the outset that the app would be rejected on these grounds.

"Bad news, Apple have rejected the app ... it's basically what we feared in the first place."

The department and consultancy firm Saltbush Group suggested that a web app might be the best alternative, but did suggest that a self-contained iOS app might be the way forward.

"Given there have been outages/issues with the website since we launched the Android app, this might make sense anyway, and we could optionally back-port the application to the other mobile platforms if that suited."

The office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been contacted for comment.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • There's always that other OS...

    The one with a bigger marketshare and that isn't quite so anal about things like this...
  • WHICH government?

    ZDNET, if you intend to totally mangle all your regional feeds into one giant garbage bag, you need to instruct your writers to properly identify their subjects. "government" -- which country?

    "The government's big red button for cybersafety"
    "In 2010, the government launched"

    U.S government?

    "Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy's"

    The U.S. doesn't have that.

    "The office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy"

    OH, not the USA! We don't call our cabinet secretaries "ministers". Our government is not a religion.
    • My bad

      Sorry, I usually include this but it slipped my mind this time, and I know it is often a source of confusion for US readers.

      I've amended to include the fact that this is about the Australian government. If you're ever in doubt, check the topic tags. :)
      Josh Taylor
    • @ChazzMatt

      You could have fooled me by the way Americans go into hysterics over their presidents.

      By the way, you need to buy yourself a dictionary. You gave us an example of definition 1; what about 2, 3 and 4? Definition of Minister:
      a. One who is authorized to perform religious functions in a Christian church, especially a Protestant church.
      b. Roman Catholic Church The superior in certain orders.
      2. A high officer of state appointed to head an executive or administrative department of government.
      3. An authorized diplomatic representative of a government, usually ranking next below an ambassador.
      4. A person serving as an agent for another by carrying out specified orders or functions.
  • Here's an idea...

    Here's an idea. What if when you press the button the app first makes a farting sound, before re-directing you to the anti-bullying website. Would that be enough additional functionality?

    Other ideas:

    A Star Trek tri-corder sound.
    An air-raid siren sound.
    The sound of an AR-15 being discharged in a confined space.
    A hidden objects minigame that you must complete first before you are re-directed.
    • lol

      I'm being bullied, threatened and harassed... think I might play a mini game and listen to fart sounds :-D
  • bad advice

    looks like they paid a lot for some bad advice from their consultants. *sigh* :)
  • Stevo

    Delighted our US readers can get a glimpse of out federal tech and comms minister inside the cone of silence with his big red knob on display, it was always a good look. Apart from the NBN national broadband rollout, which is being funded by the feds here, not Google or an isp, virtually anything else emanating from Conroys mouth re the intertubes has been less than edifying, from his mandatory web filtering plans to his big red panic knob, and his implication by inference that anyone (which was virtually everyone) opposed to his unworkable filter, including a female fellow mp, was "opting into child pornography". But then again, he is an import from the Brits and spent his early career head kicking in union factional brawls. As opposed to his opposition equivalent who spent his early career head kicking in merchant bank boardroom brawls, but at leat he is a republican...
  • Josh and co...

    ... oh and happy holidays to Josh and aussie ZDNet compatriots (and say Hi to Suzanne, I miss her techlatte dulcet tones!) :)