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

About

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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