Computer Generated Film Censors…Australian Government consider software tools to classify games and movies

Posted: 6 May, 2014 in world
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Read more Australia Censorship News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

australian government logo A proposal for computer software to be used to classify material, such as movies and video games, has hit the news in Australia. The Federal Government has proposed the development of digital tools to speed up the work of the Classification Board.

Responses to survey questions by producers or developers about the content of movies or games could be used by a computer program to recommend a classification. Members of the Classification Board would be able to change the final result if they did not agree with the software’s decision.

Legal academic Lyria Bennett Moses and her colleagues at the University of NSW’s Cyberspace Law and Policy Community commented that draft changes to classification law did not place enough restrictions on the use of classification tools:

At worst, there would be no human judgment applied to the necessary human judgment matters central to the classification process. A Google bot might do it.

Morality campaigners of Family Voice Australia did not believe the Government intended to use computer programs to make a classification decision. But they feared this could happen in the future, enabling pornographers to exploit the classification system by supplying incorrect information about the content of their films to censorship programs.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan told Parliament recently that a draft Bill would require any classification tools to be approved by the relevant government minister.

The Bill also provides the Classification Board with the opportunity to classify material even after it has been considered by an approved tool, if it considers that the decision is problematic. As a final protection, if there are concerns about the effectiveness of a classification tool, its approval may be suspended or revoked at any time.

The computer game industry supports the use of automated tools to help speed up long delays waiting for material to be classified. Since 1996, the Classification Board has classified an average of 745 computer games a year. But more than 57,000 games were released by Apple’s App Store in 2013. It also very expensive, costing upto $2460 to have a computer game classified.

The Government  is also considering scrapping proposals for 2-D and 3-D versions of the same movie to be classified separately.

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