The Australian Government has today revealed that it plans to enforce a classification of review of any mobile games (and possibly apps) that are referred to the Australian Classification Board after a complaint. Any app referred for review would have to receive a rating of MA15+ or lower to remain on sale legally in Australia.
The Government has said that if the proposal goes through it would force Apple and Google to comply by removing any app that is banned by the Classification Board as well as ensuring that any app that has gone through classification would have its classification displayed for consumers to see.
Currently there is ambiguity over classifying new online content including mobile apps for the iPhone or for Google’s Android OS in Australia with some suggesting that technically every game should be classified, an impossible feat with the number of apps in the App Store alone. The new proposal by the Home Affairs Minister would only require classification of game apps that the Classification Board receive complaints about and the Minister believes that there would be “very, very few games” that would be refused classification (banned).
Developer Marc Edwards from Bjango said that the solution found was sensible in that a forced review approach of every game app would mean “most developers wouldn’t bother releasing in Australia, which accounts for a small percentage of sales”. Electronic Frontiers Australia however said it was “hard to see a big public benefit in censoring mobile games hosted overseas” and that “stores like iTunes already censor their games heavily.”
The change in law required for this proposal to go ahead will require Mr O’Connor to first get ahead approval from the Australian Attorney Generals and then legislative approval from the Federal Parliament. Apple was contacted by Fairfax media but said that it was not for them to comment on.