Will Australia censor Apple’s App Store?


blog From the ‘dumbest moves ever’ category of government decisions comes this one by Federal Labor. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor has gotten all hot under the collar about Apple’s App Store and wants to make sure none of the naughty bits get to the wee little children, for fear they may be tainted by them. Reports the Sydney Morning Herald:

“The government says it will require app distributors including Apple and Google to show ratings (e.g. MA15+) next to some apps and will prosecute those who distribute apps that have been banned due to extreme content.”

The silliest thing about this is that the Government thinks it can simply force massive technology companies like Apple and Google to modify their global platform to suit local requirements. The second silliest thing about it is that Apple probably already censors the App Store even more harshly than Australia’s censors ever could, and even Google already bans porn from the Android Market.

The third silliest thing about this is that … why would Federal Labor try to censor stuff from the walled gardens which the App Store and Android Market constitute, when those things are available on the wider internet anyway? Or on other, dedicated adult-friendly app stores (SFW)?

Oh wait, Labor’s trying to censor the wider internet as well. Right.

Image credit: Screenshot of the Infinity Blade iOS game


  1. Yet again like every stupid Government censorship idea, this will simply encourage piracy. Given how easy it is to jailbreak your phone and install apps from anywhere on the planet, this will do nothing to prevent people from accessing the content they want.

    Not to mention iTunes is already censored by Mr Jobs! There’s almost nothing in the App Store that could be deemed offensive, apart from violence which is prevalent in all types of video games. Shouldn’t it be up to parents to decide what is appropriate for younger people to access via their iDevice?

    There are also already parental lock features built into iTunes which can be used to prevent access to adult content!

    The stupidity of this is overwhelming.

  2. “The silliest thing about this is that the Government thinks it can simply force massive technology companies like Apple and Google to modify their global platform to suit local requirements. ”

    erm … sure they can. They are the government. If they wanted to they could ban all Apple products from sale in Australia (whether they could prevent consumers from getting their hands on it anyway is another matter). If the gov’t said they were going to ban Apple products unless Apple instituted apps ratings, you can bet Apple would do it too.

    At the moment new shipments of PS3s into Europe are frozen, on government orders. German gov’t forced Google to change their Street View platform. Happens all the time! Law is the law and big companies like Apple don’t make money by breaking it

    • Except “the law is the law” doesn’t really cut it when you’re Apple and you’re dealing with 50 pissant little governments all around the world. From the perspective of a true multinational, the Australian Government’s effort here is slightly ridiculous if it gets too far outside the norm compared with other bigger countries such as the US.

      In addition, the problem here is that Apple is really importing these products. They’re digital goods. The word “importation” doesn’t mean much in that context. And so the goods are actually ‘sold’ through the internet, which has proven historically impossible for any government to really control in any meaningful sense.

      PS3s are different — they’re real hardware.

  3. Youtube is banned in Turkey, Facebook is banned in China, both are banned all over the Middle East. If a government wants to make it difficult for a company to do business – even the 2nd biggest one in the world – they have all sorts of ways to do so. They can easily level punitive fines against Apple, and they can start banning sale of Apple hardware. Would Apple rather keep their App Store the way they like it, or would they prefer public servants march into Telstra stores, seize all the iPhones, and dump them in a big hole in the desert? hmmmm

    • I seem to remember that they banned alcohol a few years back … and yet people still drank it — the way that people still watch YouTube in Turkey through proxies. Technology does not admit to being bound by Government, Bob, and that is and always has been a fact ;)

      • Sure, I agree with that, but that wasn’t your original point. You said the Aussie Government couldn’t force one company – Apple – to change it’s App Store platform. I’m pretty sure when Prohibition was introduced, the legitimate alcohol manufacturers didn’t just go ‘pffft’ and continue to sell product! As we all know, it went underground to organised crime and the legitimate firms either went out of business or sold something else

  4. I believe it works on a complaint-based system. So you complain to the classification board about a game, and they review it. I suggest we all make a complaint about each of the 100,000 apps in the App Store. See how long their resolve lasts :-)

    • There is one game already that needs to be banned, because it:
      * Promotes cruelty to animals (specificity pigs)
      * Is an addictive substance

      Not to mention the adult themes that are included in the Seasons (Valentines) version of the game.

      • Please don’t give Conroy any more ammunition. Hey, but I guess if he mentions it in a speech sometime soon, we’ll know he reads Delimiter… ;)

  5. Microsoft already (some time ago?) self-censored the ‘Indie Games’ section of the Xbox Live Marketplace within Australia; by removing any access to indie games!

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