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AU Classification Board To Censor Mobile Apps

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the we-got-a-ban-for-that dept.

Censorship 129

bennyboy64 writes "The Australian Classification Board is seeking to censor mobile phone applications under its National Classification Scheme. 'I recently wrote to the minister [Minister McDonald] regarding my concern that some so-called mobile phone applications, which can be purchased online or either downloaded to mobile phones or played online via mobile phone access, are not being submitted to the board for classification,' Australia's Classification Board director Donald McDonald told a Senate Estimates committee. I wonder if they know that there are over 80,000 applications on the iPhone platform alone?"

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129 comments

Help! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833011)

Mobile phone apps might contain teh boobies! Oh noes!

Re:Help! (1, Insightful)

Skythe (921438) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833153)

Ridiculous.
Do they really expect to be able to review all 80,000 + iPhone apps, 10,000+ Android apps, and everything else in every other app store? What are they going to do, attempt to pull every app until each one is reviewed? This sounds like some 60 year old executive finally upgraded his aging Nokia to an iPhone and thought it a good idea.
These apps are digital downloads from (generally) overseas sources, I'm sure there are plenty of programs you can download from the vastness that is the internet that contains content that people would object to. Do they review them? No.
And I know not of Stephen Conroy's involvement in this, but he's already under enough fire from the proposed Internet Filtering Scheme. Give it a rest!

Re:Help! (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833635)

Do they really expect to be able to review all 80,000 + iPhone apps, 10,000+ Android apps,

You just wait till I tell them about the javascript apps embedded in many web pages.

Go censorship! (2, Insightful)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833063)

Just think, it will likely take them YEARS just to catch up with all the iPhone mobile apps. The best thing we can hope for is their heads will implode from all the "reviewing".

Just when I thought the nanny state of the UK could not be topped...

Re:Go censorship! (2, Interesting)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833081)

My thoughts exactly. I wonder if they will just trust Apples review process? probably not... they don't trust ESRB ratings do they?

Re:Go censorship! (2, Insightful)

slacker22 (1614751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833085)

I'd hazard that the only things to be censored will be a few isolated but popular (newsworthy) apps which have the potential to be politically embarrassing.

Re:Go censorship! (2, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834069)

a few isolated but popular (newsworthy) apps which have the potential to be politically embarrassing.

AbiMap - tracks troop and train movements so users can see where the Aborigines are being exported for "resettlement"

Conroy - "Censor it! Censor it now!"
UniformedThug- "Yes sir!"
Conroy - "And terminate the programmer of this app with extreme prejudice."

Re:Go censorship! (3, Insightful)

Hasney (980180) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833091)

Australia have got so hot on censoring everything these days they're more of a great grandma state at this point.

With all the digital distribution options as well, I don't think they really know how easy it is to bypass regional restrictions on places like app stores.

Re:Go censorship! (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833565)

The current trend in digital distribution options might actually make things harder to circumvent, not easier.

With brick and mortar boxed software sales, stopping commercial-scale imports at the border is pretty easy; but there is pretty much nothing stopping you from having friends/family overseas mail you a disk in generic wrapping. The wide availability of warez makes importation even easier. Once you have a copy, it'll run on your computer as well as anywhere else.

By contrast, with an iPhone, the app store is your only option(short of cracking the device, and that isn't getting any easier). It would be pretty trivial for Apple, if put under legal pressure, to implement geographic restrictions there. Other smartphones aren't quite as dire, since they have other ways of loading applications; but the level of carrier control is still far higher than equivalent vendor control on the PC side.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833681)

It would be pretty trivial for Apple, if put under legal pressure, to implement geographic restrictions there.

It would be equally trivial for Australians to log into the app store through a proxy server, thereby totally circumventing the geographic restriction.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834023)

im fairly certain the phones know what cell towers theyre connecting to, where theyre located, and who the provider is.

Re:Go censorship! (2, Informative)

nneonneo (911150) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834249)

You can still download apps off iTunes, and it is possible to create free accounts in other countries without needing a credit card (you simply need to switch stores and download a free app).

So, if you proxy iTunes, and use a foreign (e.g. American) account to purchase apps, there's not a whole lot censorship can do.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

mrdoogee (1179081) | more than 4 years ago | (#29835555)

You or I could do that. But remember that the iPhone's great success was that it brought "smartphones" to the masses. Most folks with an iPhone wouldn't know how to proxy even if you explained it to them. I'd say that if the app store became geographically locked, you'd see most Austrailian users just end up using the crippled AUS app store.
      This seems mostly dependent on if Apple (and to a lesser extent, other Smartphone app publishers) will tell the AUS gov't to go soak its head or not.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834041)

Assuming that they also have an account tied to a foreign credit card. And further assuming that Apple's implementation of geographic restrictions didn't include nationality information embedded in the phone(since most of the phones sold are already carrier locked, at least, it is clearly doable to customize the phone according to its intended area of use).

Heck, while I'm sure Apple wouldn't want to(since it would just piss people off), it would be technically feasible for them to tie per-app geographic restrictions in to their existing location services stuff. "Illegal" apps could simply stop working if the handset was taken inside a given jurisdiction and start working again outside of it.

When you combine locked-down operating systems, purchasing mechanisms tightly tied to real world CC/ID information, carrier control, and location aware devices, the options for geographic restriction get downright sinister.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834073)

Credit cards tend to have a country and a currency associated with them. Watertight as long as we forget about gift credit cards (U.S.-centric phenomenon).

Then again, it's iPhones we're talking about here. I'd be very surprised if Apple didn't have a way to track any App Store sale to it's phone number, and even if they can't, they get the S/N of the device and know what S/N was destined for what market (and, if sold through an Apple Store, when it was purchased with what method of payment). This is easily defeated by using a proxy to connect to iTMS with an account from the proxy's country, paying with a credit card from that country as well as using an iTouch bought for cash in a non-Apple-Store in just that country.

From Apple's viewpoint, they're dealing with a customer in whatever country your proxy, CC and iTouch are in/from. No fault on their part as it's completely impossible for them to track this to you. If, by some coincidence, you should be found with all that equipment, the blame is instantly shifted over to you -- going through so much work you had to be aware you were doing something forbidden. Still, discovery is rather unlikely.

Considering the apps, though, I seriously can't understand why anybody should go through so much trouble to get his/her fix of Apple-authorized apps when there's so many superior alternatives. Just go Android, download whatever you need from wherever you like (through a proxy, if you feel like that) and party on.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834195)

You ever seen Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict? There's a character on there called Augur who can hack into virtually any system. That's what we all need to become - Augurs - to hack around government obstacles and protect our right of free speech and freedom of expression even when the politicians "forget" to obey the laws they have created:

EU Charter of Rights - Article 11

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers."

Re:Go censorship! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833111)

There may well be 80,000+ apps for the iPhone and a rapidly expanding number of apps on Android, WinMobile, WebOS, Meamo and Symbian but surely that is the point. This is about a quango seeking to expand its influence as it sees the content matter that it originally was set up to certify becoming increasingly less relevant in the exploding world of multimedia, always on (and available) platforms and distribution channels. It is a pure matter of self interest and survival.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833909)

Not years, decades. Assuming they can completely review 2 apps a day (paperwork, government workers inefficiency, etc), including weekends, it will take them 109+ years to get thru them all. Even at 4 a day it's almost 55 years.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833977)

Even if they are only reviewing *games* for the iPhone, that is still over 13000+ & counting. At 4 a day that still a little over a decade to review the existing iPhone games. Then another ~5 years or so each for the future game libraries for the Android, Symbian, Pre & whatever the next big thing is.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834237)

"The obvious solution is to censor everything, and only allow apps to be released to the public AFTER the government has reviewed them. This is a reasonable and prudent solution." - government manager at the ACB

Re:Go censorship! (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834091)

Do you not know what the primary business of any bureaucracy is? It is to GROW.

Rating mobile apps give his little fiefdom unlimited growth potential.

Re:Go censorship! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29834607)

You know I used to think Aussie's were cool. Seems like all the morons are moving there instead that or the inbreeding of all the original prisoners is starting to surface.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834643)

And god knows how many apps for the 2 billion Java phones out there, as well as all the phones that have been around for years before the Iphone. Of course, it's understandable we wouldn't know about them, as Slashdot only gives coverage to one mobile phone, and otherwise ignores the industry.

(Even censorship stories now have to have the "On Your Iphone" tag, as if to hype it up?)

Re:Go censorship! (1)

friday_drag.net (905390) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834811)

There could be a new money making method in this, need a few bucks?

1) Write new iphone app.
2) Price it quite high.
3) Australian Classification Board buys it to review.
4) Repeat as needed
5) Profit.

Don't even need the ???? step.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#29835403)

1) Write new iphone app.
2) Price it quite high.
3) Australian Classification Board buys it to review.
4) Repeat as needed
5) Profit.

On the second and subsequent iterations, step 1 just requires renaming the app, not writing a whole new one. Change a few colors with #define statements, if you like, but anything more than that is overkill.

Re:Go censorship! (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834847)

Just to add - I don't know how this system will work, but if they went the
UK route, then it would simply be illegal to distribute an application without approval.

So it'll take years to go through them? No problem to the Government, as you won't be able to have the applications at all until they've been approved.

And of course, the person wanting to distribute will have to pay for the privilege of being censored (as is currently the case with the BBFC).

(The flip side is that the Video Recordings Act 1984 was recently found to have never been enacted in the UK, so it is legal to distribute without classification after all - though AFAIK nobody's tried this yet, and the Government has promised "emergency legislation"(!) to introduce such a law. It's apparently an "emergency" that an adult might see something that the Government/BBFC think you shouldn't.)

I'll get right on that (1)

serps (517783) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833073)

I wonder if they know that there are over 80,000 applications on the iPhone platform alone?"

Maybe I'll call him on my so-called mobile phone and let him know.

Re:I'll get right on that (2, Insightful)

countach (534280) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833269)

I actually listened to some of the senate committees [aph.gov.au] this week on censorship. Boy does this government LOVE censorship. You should hear the self-righteous prattle they were going on with. The ridiculous thing of course is they are trying to stick their fingers in the dyke while the whole thing is coming down around them.

Re:I'll get right on that (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#29835023)

stick their fingers in the dyke

Somehow I feel like we are the dykes, and apparently we seem to be loving it.

This is bad, how? (3, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833087)

This is not censorship: this is rating, like done with movies and so already. And this kind of rating can be a great help for parents to rate suitability of some game/movie for their kids. So I don't see this as a bad thing, and it is definitely not censorship as the content in question remains available.

Now how they are going to process and rate the tens of thousands of games available (tfa talks about games, not all applications) that is another matter. They may need to hire some extra staff.

Still I think it is basically a good thing, as long as it is just rating, allowing the buyer to get a better idea what they want to buy. Just like going to the movies, the rating gives you an extra clue on the kind of movie you are going to watch, or in this case what application you are going to buy. Or which you may want to pass on.

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833099)

Put it this way: are they going to rate purely functional applications? Should they rate the contents of the ubuntu dpkg repositories?

Re:This is bad, how? (3, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833141)

According to TFA (which I actually read before commenting, yes unbelievable) this is about computer games. AU already rates console games and movies, they want to extend to online games and with that mobile phone games. Rating functional apps is of course nonsensical.

Re:This is bad, how? (2, Insightful)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833267)

Rating functional apps is of course nonsensical.

What is the difference between a 'functional' application and a game ? A game is just as functional as any other app: it's function is to entertain.

Also, non-game applications can also contain 17+ content, the appstore contains some erotic applications that aren't games, shouldn't they be rated ? Where do you draw the line ?

Re:This is bad, how? (2, Informative)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833485)

If they become rated they become prone to the "great Australian firewall". Proposals include blocking of "RC" (refused classification) content. There is no R+18 rating for games here. Effectively banned, though not illegal to possess.

like hell it isn't (4, Insightful)

serps (517783) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833123)

This is not censorship: this is rating, like done with movies and so already.

Yes, but anything that is refused classification is unable to be sold. That's what censorship is. It's ironic that the predecessor to the OFLC was the Film Censorship Board, yet anything they didn't review was available to sell. i.e. they didn't censor.

Re:like hell it isn't (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833463)

Or in slashdot terms: the OFLC operates a whitelist, while the Film Censorship Board operated a blacklist. Give me a blacklist any day. The OFLC is irrelevant anyway. There's no way they can keep up with the volume of material, and even if they could there is no way the police can monitor every distribution channel. Consequently the OFLC can safely be ignored. Just don't get caught.

Re:like hell it isn't (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833559)

Consequently the OFLC can safely be ignored. Just don't get caught.

When everybody is a criminal, anybody can be picked up, anytime..

Re:like hell it isn't (2, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833719)

I also worry that this sort of shit makes it easier for people to commit real crimes, as I feel that many would fear taking the initial step onto the wrong side of the law. When we pass laws that ensure that all citizens are on the wrong side of the law by default, I feel that we remove a large barrier in the minds of the people. Not only that, but it makes a total farce of law enforcement.

Re:like hell it isn't (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834725)

I also worry that this sort of shit makes it easier for people to commit real crimes, as I feel that many would fear taking the initial step onto the wrong side of the law.

The idea of "gateway crime" is as ridiculous as the idea of "gateway drugs".

Not only that, but it makes a total farce of law enforcement.

Now that's the truth.

Re:like hell it isn't (1)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#29835173)

No, the GP poster has a point.

Gateway drugs are a different phenomenon, and as you point out, one that has been largely refuted. The "Gateway Drug" idea is where use of "soft" drugs leads to the use of "hard" drugs, usually with the idea that the "high" wears off the soft drugs and the user seeks harder drugs to keep getting high.

The lack-of-respect-for-law argument the poster was making is actually related to drugs as well. In the drug world it's been argued that the continued criminalization of marijuana reduces the respect for law because when people actually use it and find out that it doesn't turn them into raging psychopaths or heroin addicts, they intellectually lose respect for the law and question the validity of other laws. They are also more prone to engage in the black market since that's where marijuana is sold, which undercuts their practical respect for the law (ie, become willing to engage in breaking the law).

The "gateway drug" argument kind of makes some logical sense when you combine it with the lack-of-respect-for-law argument. If people are told wildly inaccurate things about marijuana but find out that none of them are true (psychosis, addiction, this-is-your-brain-on-drugs, etc) they are less inclined to believe cautionary statements about drugs which actually do have more serious consequences if not used carefully (ie, opiate addiction, heart damage from cocaine, etc).

Anyway, the GP poster's point is true generally -- to the extent that governments pass idiotic laws that everyone breaks, the more likely everyone will be to break laws that are less idiotic.

Re:like hell it isn't (1)

Turzyx (1462339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834153)

anything that is refused classification is unable to be sold

While I don't disagree with you entirely, I always thought rating systems for films, games, etc. were (generally) quite fair; the products that have been "banned" typically feature the very worst and deplorable content around. Obviously there are exceptions to this but no system is perfect, especially ones involving humans.

When discussions of censorship or classification of content arise, it's quite easy to be given the impression that the system is restrictive. I believe it's quite the opposite (caveat: if done properly), censorship sets you free; you are free to live in a society that doesn't tolerate despicable material. If done properly.

Mind you this is Australia again.

Re:like hell it isn't (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834565)

>>>the products that have been "banned" typically feature the very worst and deplorable content around.
>>>

Yeah like those "Saw" movies. They ought to be banned from every country on this planet.M

/end sarcasm. One man's "deplorable content" is no big deal to other people - just actors on a stage with ketchup. There shouldn't be any censorship of any kind so that people can watch whatever they want to watch (in the privacy of their homes).

Re:like hell it isn't (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#29835285)

Yeah like those "Saw" movies. They ought to be banned from every country on this planet.

Doesn't the Geneva Convention already do that?

Re:like hell it isn't (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834761)

While I don't disagree with you entirely, I always thought rating systems for films, games, etc. were (generally) quite fair; the products that have been "banned" typically feature the very worst and deplorable content around. Obviously there are exceptions to this but no system is perfect, especially ones involving humans.

Oh, I see. Censorship is ok so long as they're censoring the stuff you want to see censored.

You really missed the point on this whole issue didn't you?

I'll give you a hint: go stand on the other side of the censorship line. You're not on our side.

Re:This is bad, how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833235)

The content doesn't remain as content can be classified "refused classification" in Australia and therefore banned.

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

srjh (1316705) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833561)

This is not censorship: this is rating

Unfortunately in Australia, it is. If something is refused a classification, it's banned.

Re:This is bad, how? (3, Interesting)

copiedright (1357445) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833619)

No its not banned, it just cannot be sold in any state. However the territories do sell unclassified materials. Thats why everyone goes to Canberra for porn. Also with section 92 of the constitution regarding internal free trade. Nothing stops you buying this electronic material from a server in the territories. Except for the cost of classification,

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

giarcgood (857371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833955)

No its not banned, it just cannot be sold in any state. However the territories do sell unclassified materials. Thats why everyone goes to Canberra for porn.

RC is banned for sale. Australia does have an X classification for movies and this is what you can buy in the territories.
This leads to the situation that sex shops in Australian states sell material that is X and potentially that would be RC (as they are already doing something illegal) and is not available in the territories. When the OFLC does spot checks of these shops they are usually only looking for child porn or bestiality.
One of the lobby groups for the sex industry has been complaining about this for a long time. Here is a story about it. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,26194980-36418,00.html [news.com.au]

Re:This is bad, how? (2, Interesting)

Siridar (85255) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833627)

You fail to understand how the ratings board works in Australia - certainly, the ratings board says they're not "censors" but anything that is "RC" - refused classification - cannot be legally distributed. In that context, it cannot be called anything else *but* censorship.

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834321)

True I'm not Australian.

Question. I can imagine and understand that certain material is considered taboo (child porn is an obvious candidate) and is illegal. That is pretty much all over the world, the main difference is what a people think is acceptable and what not, that are cultural differences. Back to Oz, how about material that has not (yet) been submitted for rating? Does it have to be submitted for rating first to become RC and in effect forbidden? Do e.g. movies have to be classified before they are allowed to be distributed?

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834591)

>>>considered taboo (child porn is an obvious candidate)

Careful. Many people say nudity == porn, such that I can't even take a photo of my own kid at the local nudist beach. You need to be more specific in your definitions. Nudity =/= porn in a sane country. Images of hand-drawn children having sex should also not illegal (nobody's been harmed; no victim == no crime).

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834287)

This is not censorship: this is rating

And stuff that doesn't get the right rating can't be sold. That IS censorship, bucko.

as the content in question remains available.

But it doesn't. This isn't like the US's ESRB (with which I have no problem, incidentally). This is a *government* rating system, and stuff the rating board doesn't like gets legally banned.

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834357)

But it doesn't. This isn't like the US's ESRB (with which I have no problem, incidentally). This is a *government* rating system, and stuff the rating board doesn't like gets legally banned.

But then of course Oz is a democracy so if you as a people do not like the current practices you can vote for a different government and have it changed. Censorship to me is still something primarily political, like in China where books are forbidden because they talk about democracy or failings of the current communist system. And that is not a government that can be voted out. Nor is there freedom of expression allowing you to even talk about the censorship in the first place.

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834615)

>>>of course Oz is a democracy so if you as a people do not like the current practices you can vote for a different government

of course that's just another way of saying Democracy == Tyranny of the majority to control the government & squash the minority underfoot.

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834835)

But then of course Oz is a democracy so if you as a people do not like the current practices you can vote for a different government and have it changed.

Censorship that got a majority vote is still censorship, and I say to hell with it. The fact that China is indeed worse is not an excuse.

Censorship to me is still something primarily political, like in China where books are forbidden because they talk about democracy

"First they came for the games, and I did not speak out because games are not politically important..."

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834377)

Ratings=Censorship when you place restrictions on the distribution of work that is rated above a certain level. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESRB [wikipedia.org] AO - "Most of the major video game console manufacturers ... strictly prohibit the release and sale of AO-rated games on their consoles. Games from major publishers that receive an AO rating are often 'toned down' in order to gain the lesser rating of M..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_picture_rating_system [wikipedia.org] NC-17 - "No One 17 And Under Admitted"..."Most NC-17 titles also have an edited versions released on video and/or DVD that are either unrated or R-rated"

Re:This is bad, how? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834489)

This is not censorship: this is rating, like done with movies and so already. And this kind of rating can be a great help for parents to rate suitability of some game/movie for their kids.

Apple already rates iphone apps. Actually, the developers rate their own apps, and they get penalized pretty heavily if they miscategorize/misrate their app. It's not a perfect system, for instance somehow the "shaking baby" app still got through (but it was quickly pulled off the market).

What actual real problem are you trying to solve here?

This is a digital medium. Apps get updated quickly, but apps can also be removed just as quickly (which is not the case for in-store games). As mobile apps take advantage more and more of the network/internet connectivity, they're becoming more and more like web sites, and they'll get updated even more quickly, so even if you manage to hire enough people to rate all of them, the rating will become stale as time goes on.

Do you really want a perfect solution for your children? Why can't you just live with Apple's current rules? combined perhaps with some occasional spot-checking?

Does Australia really have an unlimited amount of money for hiring all those reviewers you want? And isn't there the real risk of Australia being left behind everybody else technologically, if they really do try to prevent every new app, every new platform, from entering their marketplace until they got the proper ratings/reviews for every snapshot/versions of everything they have? Again, I've got to ask. What's the real problem you are trying to solve? What are the misrated apps that are causing you problems? How many real Australian children are you really trying to "save" that would have installed that app (or those apps) if not for this extra piece of hypothetical protective legislation??

Re:This is bad, how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29834583)

This is not censorship: this is rating, like done with movies and so already.

In the AU, the rating system, like is done with movies and so already, *IS* censorship.

This isn't like where they stick a label with an age restriction or suggestion on it like you are used to in the US

One rating level that exists is "Not allowed to sell in stores at all"
As long as that entry exists as a rating classification, it is censorship, plain and simple.

Wasted sarcasm (3, Insightful)

asliarun (636603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833101)

I think they're heading in the right direction. They should also review and classify all websites on the internet as they can be downloaded to mobile phones as well. Shockingly, these so-called internet applications can even be downloaded to computers in even higher resolution. I wonder if they know that there are much more than 80,000 internet applications on just the world wide web alone. On top of this, they get regularly updated! Should keep a committee busy for a while, I think.

Re:Wasted sarcasm (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833397)

This is absolutely brilliant! Think about the number of jobs that will be created as a result.

Re:Wasted sarcasm (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833415)

What's sad is that some people might actually think those would be good jobs and that the economy would be stimulated. Everyone with even a weakling's grasp on Economics is cringing right about now.

Re:Wasted sarcasm (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833431)

They should also review and classify all websites on the internet as they can be downloaded to mobile phones as well

I'm not sure if you are aware, but that is the direction that they are heading with their mandatory internet filtering scheme [dlc.asn.au] at the ISP level. It's a completely dumb and unworkable idea, so therefore the government loves it!

The end of indie iphone games in Australia (4, Interesting)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833121)

As far as I know, to release a game on a medium regulated by the Australian classification board, you have to have the game in question classified. This costs a minimum of $1000 AUD.

This will spell the end of any small-scale iPhone game development by individuals or indie developers in Australia. The only games we'll see will be from big publishers, if we see them at all - even a big-name game is going to struggle to recoup $1000+ from Australian sales alone.

Re:The end of indie iphone games in Australia (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833315)

I agree with this, assuming it's something which requires either money or extensive effort from devs.

Even if that was the case, it isn't the end for the developers - I'd say most Australian developers currently have the US/other countries as their main market, but it will definitely impact their ability to make sales based on local presence.

However, it would be very bad for the consumers as most developers from around the world will just say meh and not publish here.

Re:The end of indie iphone games in Australia (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833383)

indie developers in Australia

You mean "all indie developers [in the world] when trying to sell in Australia", right?

I was going to take issue with the word "censor" (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833137)

Then I RTFA:

iTnews has since been informed that Minister McDonald was referring to Commonwealth Censorship Minister Brendan O'Connor.

Well, how charmingly honest of them. In a more sophisticated regime, that would be "Minister for the Protection of Cute Children's Precious, Precious Innocence."

Re:I was going to take issue with the word "censor (4, Informative)

srjh (1316705) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833537)

Unfortunately they're not quite that honest - that title is from the author, not the Australian Government.

His actual title is "Minister for Home Affairs" [ministerho...irs.gov.au] .

I would have said that the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy [dbcde.gov.au] was more deserving of that title. He's the one pushing for mandatory state-wide internet filtering, three-strike copyright infringement laws, and privacy/interception exemptions for ISPs so they can prove their users aren't breaking the law. Also known as the internet villain of the year [smh.com.au] .

Politicians (2, Interesting)

Dorsai65 (804760) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833155)

I wonder if they know that there are over 80,000 applications on the iPhone platform alone?

Feh. Politicians typically lose track of numbers once they get past however many fingers and/or toes they happen to have. I pity the poor staffers that are going to have to do the actual work...

When I visited Oz (ca. 1976), it seemed like a pretty decent country. Too bad the government there has opted to go the way of England.

Re:Politicians (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834567)

The whole western world is currently in a downward spiral into fascism. It's not just Australia. It's just really noticeable there. The definition of irony is the US forcing the Swiss banks to open up their records. Or was that the definition of farce? I'm not sure.

the Commonwealth Censorship Ministery (2, Insightful)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833185)

"The Australian Classification Board has written to Government expressing concerns that mobile phone applications are being made available in Australia without being subject to a ratings process."

Government: magically transforming self-righteous assholes into civil servants.

Re:the Commonwealth Censorship Ministery (3, Informative)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833271)

Government: magically transforming self-righteous assholes into civil servants.

Think positively: it's one of the few skills that government is really good at :-)

Re:the Commonwealth Censorship Ministery (2, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834351)

"Australians have access to games that I HAVEN'T APPROVED OF! This is absolutely intolerable!"

Proposed Categories (4, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833233)

No need to worry yet. Perhaps the categories will be

1. Boobies
2. Extra Boobies
3. Mediocre girl-girl
4. Wicked Awesome girl-girl
5. Why would you pay 99 cents for that boring thing, mate?

Re:Proposed Categories (0, Flamebait)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833513)

You forgot:
6. Fuck I'm so dumb I think an application can turn my iPhone into X-ray glasses. Why yes I do give you permission to spam me into oblivion at $5 per message.

/. uses 0 class when censoring readers' input (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833273)

goat sex is ok/fine, butt don't mention the g word, or anything positive pertaining to the spirit, or negative re: robbIE's advertisers by whose hand he has become a willing hostage, like patty hearst, except he gets paid. it's all in several of the manuals. the lights are coming up all over now.

get the truth here! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833421)

gas prices have gone up 20 cents in two weeks under obama. where are his oil wells? he must be in the pocket of big oil to let this happen.

it could go this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833461)

Application Censored: you need to be under 18 years old to use it

censorship alive.... & ?well? on /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833563)

our post of 1/2 hour ago is gone. there was no profanity nor was it off topic (censorship). what a scam robbIE?

Already planned in South Korea (3, Informative)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833587)

1) The South Korea's Games Rating Board is supposed to certify every game.
2) The Jesus Phone is finally about to be launched in South Korea and it will be widely popular for lots of reasons (you can trust me on this one).

But because of 1), the South Korean AppStore will not include games... [koreatimes.co.kr]

Yes, a state can do that.

[Already posted in a similar story a few days ago.]

His parents must have been Catholic ... (1)

cheesecake23 (1110663) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833591)

I can only imagine that Mr. and Mrs. McDonald were forbidden to use contraceptives and were *not* happy to have the baby. What other reason can there be for the cruelty in naming their son Donald?

This is right up there with the American soccer player in the 1994 World Cup called Tom Dooley ...

Re:His parents must have been Catholic ... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833675)

Or as in the case of Major Major Major Major, mum was out of it when the birth cert got filled out, and dad wasn't very imaginative.

Re:His parents must have been Catholic ... (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834095)

In parts of the world that don't perceive names in the same fairly narrow way that you do, a name like Donald MacDonald is fairly unremarkable. Slightly remarkable, but not sufficiently so as to incite speculation on the motives of the parents.

What are they trying to do with this censorship? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29833599)

Encourage piracy? The local RIAA should send a few lawyers their way.

Donald McDonald? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833877)

His parents must have really hated him...

maybe i'm amazed (1)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834081)

i can't believe it. australia is turning into a desert wasteland due to climate change, while their politicians are coming up with stupid plans to waste time and energy and money and human resources on "classifying" applications? they truly deserve the mad max world that's headed their way.

Australia used to be cool (3, Interesting)

sukotto (122876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29834293)

Why don't we ever hear any GOOD news out of Australia? Is it just the media companies (and here I include /. ) only talking about the shitty stuff they're doing ... or is it really that shitty there now?

Australia used to be cool.

Re:Australia used to be cool (2, Informative)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 4 years ago | (#29835261)

The news you get about Australia generally comes from Australians. Australians have a habit of complaining about things, especially their own country. What news you get out of Australia will generally honest, but very much focused on the negative. It does cut down on things like illegal immigration, since any Australian will happily tell the world how prevalent racism is in their society and the shamefully brutal treatment of refugees. But it is important to remember that what you hear about Australia is a list of what needs to be improved, generally not a reasonable basis for comparison with other countries, since generally you might have heard those country's issues discussed in a less pessimistic voice. I've traveled around a fair bit, Australia has it's weaknesses but so do all countries, even Australia's government despite it's recent obsession with censorship is fair by government standards (not saying much). Australia's government is a bloated, inflexible and expensive pain in the arse, but so is yours.

The Australian censorship system worked fairly well in the past. Only a very small handful of media were banned in the past and they were generally things banned in most other countries too and was not vigorously enforced. Generally, censorship was aligned with what the bulk of the population wanted (although arguably that is still the case). Things changed a lot with the introduction of compulsory rating of computer games, since the ratings system wasn't able to handle the broadening scope of themes in computer games. But computer games is a small part of the Australian censorship system, and censorship is a small part of Australia. Also, it says a lot about Australia's unwillingness to accept bullshit that the government still can not implement an Internet censorship scheme after 3 years of trying despite having quite good IT resources at their disposal.

Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about Australia. A lot of stupid shit happens down there, but this is the case everywhere, it just pisses Australians off more.

Also, who says no good news? Yesterday Slashdot said that CSIRO invested $150M in scientific research, that's pretty good. The patents looked fair to me and even if they weren't, at least the ill-gotten gains are going somewhere useful.

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