Labor Vows to Shut AU Mobile App Loophole

August 18, 2010 -

A longstanding loophole that has allowed mobile application developers to avoid submitting their wares for classification in Australia has been vowed to be sealed up by the country’s Labor Party.

The Australian reports
that the issue is on the agenda of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting, which was postponed three weeks ago due to the looming state elections (that take place on August 21).

Labor’s Brendan O’Connor, and Minister of Home Affairs, said that he was, “… concerned about the classification of games playable on mobile telephones and had put the wheels in motion to address this with his state and territory counterparts.”

Meanwhile, a Sydney Morning Herald story notes that such submissions could cost developers between $470 and $2040 per entry, which didn’t sit well with some creators.

Bjango Founder Marc Edwards indicated that if his company was forced to submit apps for classification, they would simply cease to release them in Australia, a notion shared by fellow developer Matt Comi of Big Bucket Software.

Edwards also wondered if the Classification Board was up for handling all the new submissions, noting that, “The sheer volume is going to make it very, very difficult.”

Comi lamented the financial aspects of such an implementation, stating:

You can't know in advance whether you've got a hit on your hands or whether or not you're going to recoup your costs. So I think with a smaller industry, particularly with my team - myself and a designer - we couldn't say whether we were going to make $10.

Nick Lowe, of the non-profit Let’s Make Games stated, “I'm sceptical that the government simply sees potential to generate revenue at the expense of what they see as a minority demographic.”

One has to wonder just many apps would be deemed worthy of release if they had to run the gamut of both Apple and the country’s Classification Board censoring and rating submissions.


Comments

Re: Labor Vows to Shut AU Mobile App Loophole

 Australia isn't a state, they're called Federal elections.

Re: Labor Vows to Shut AU Mobile App Loophole

Officially, the maximum is 20 business days, according to the Classification Board's website. As of 2007, though, the Board can extend that to 40 days for any "sufficiently complex" submission, which computer games (presumably including mobile phone games) are automatically considered to fall under. If I'm reading the full Classification Act correctly (page 75 of the PDF), there's no explicit penalty for failing to meet the limit, although they are required to include an explaination as to why they couldn't meet the limit in their yearly report. (Mind you, I'm not even Australian, let alone an Australian lawyer, so I could easily be mistaken about this.)

Re: Labor Vows to Shut AU Mobile App Loophole

I think the AU board would choke on the sheer volume of applications it would be asked to rate. Is there a statutory time limit for the board to conduct a rating one an application is submitted?

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