Oz governments find new use for censorship

Kill off naughty stuff? There’s an app for that…

Australia’s government has once again exhibited its enthusiasm for censorship, with the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor reportedly considering setting the country’s content classifiers onto Apple's App Store and Google's Android Marketplace.

Apparently unaware that Apple works hard to sanitise its walled garden, O'Connor has told the Sydney Morning Herald that the government will require Apple and Google to remove apps from their stores if they would be "Refused Classification" in Australia.

Most recently, the "RC" tag has been applied to Warner's revival of gaming splatter-fest Mortal Kombat (Warners will ask for the classification to be reviewed).

The problem the government has invented identified is that apps distributed through channels like the App Store don't have to go through Classification Board processes before Apple will distribute them – unlike, for example, movies and computer games, which have to be submitted and classified before they’re offered for sale.

O'Connor foreshadowed requiring ratings to appear next to apps. While Google already does so, its ratings don't align with the ratings used in Australia.

However, rather than appoint most of Australia's adult population to the Classification Board to retrospectively review the apps that already exist, O'Connor told the Herald he will seek a change to legislation so that classifications would be undertaken only in response to complaints (this is analogous to how the Australian Communications and Media Authorities' list of "blacklisted" websites now operates). ®

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